Values Are Weapons as Cuba Defends Doctors against US intervention

The George W. Bush administration initiated the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program (CMPP) in 2006. The idea was to persuade overseas Cuban doctors to abandon their posts and relocate to the United States. Cuba’s medical solidarity programs, in place for half a century, would suffer. President Obama ended the CMPP in January, 2017. Now the U.S. government wants to reinstate it.

Cubans defending medical outreach associate what the doctors do with ideals of human dignity and solidarity. U.S. rationales for their own interventions are either unconvincing as to humane purposes or not for public knowledge.

The U.S. government thus speaks of bringing democracy to Cuba and Venezuela. That those nations are under U.S. siege brings to mind the Vietnamese town Ben Tre. U.S. forces destroyed it in 1968 in order “to save it.” Otherwise, what many regard as the actual purpose of U.S. interventions, the commandeering of power and wealth, is unmentionable in mainstream circles.

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Cuba demonstrates coherence between intervention in the health care of other peoples and values. Former Cuban President Fidel Castro, speaking in Buenos Aires in 2003, stated that, “Our country is able to send the doctors that are needed to the darkest corners of the world. Doctors, not bombs!” He had just proclaimed Cuba’s unwillingness (and inability) to launch “preventative surprise attacks in any dark corner of the world.”

Marisnely Echemendía Concepción recently sounded a strong note of human solidarity. “[F]ormed by the revolution and following the teachings of Marti, Che, and Fidel,” the Cuban doctor carries out “health promotion and disease prevention” in Caracas.

“I believe in altruism, in humanitarianism, and in internationalism,” she states. “These make up the essence of medical education in my country and validate this teaching of the Apostle (Marti): ‘Helping someone in need is part duty and part happiness.’”

And, “I would have it known and widely so – by the peoples of Our America and throughout the world – that my humanist and solidarity-based vocation can be relied upon, always. My sole interest is to improve the health of those we care for. Political affiliation, race, and religious creed don’t matter.”

Besides, “We Cuban medical graduates take on an international commitment that remains and goes with us wherever we are needed. After all, a doctor is only a slave to his or her calling as a humanist.”

Revolutionary Cuba puts values into practice. Some 600,000 Cubans have provided medical services “in more than 160 countries.” Cuba has educated 35,613 health professionals from 138 countries at no personal cost to the students.

In assailing the Cuban doctors, U.S. officialdom has machinations, lies, and force at its disposal, but little else.

On May 7 Florida Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott and Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey asked Secretary of State Pompeo to reinstitute the CMPP. Rubio and Menendez had previously introduced a Senate resolution to that effect.

That resolution cited “human trafficking,” “forced labor,” and “salaries directly garnished by their government” as characterizing Cuban doctors’ experience in Brazil. Some 8000 of them had joined former President Dilma Rousseff’s “More Doctors” program to care for destitute and underserved Brazilians. In late 2018 the Cuban government withdrew them due to President-elect Jair Bolsonaro’s animosity.

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U.S. ally Luis Almagro, secretary general of the Organization of American States, backs restoring the CMPP. He views Cuba’s pay arrangements with other states as “modern slavery.” Cuba uses its doctors for “cementing alliances with other countries.”

Serving abroad, the doctors receive their regular salaries to which are added bonuses for overseas work and coverage for living expenses abroad. Salaries are deposited in a Cuban bank or paid to a family member. Most countries hosting the doctors reimburse Cuba’s government at rates high enough for the funds to serve other purposes.

Funds received from Brazil paid for medical equipment and modernization of Cuban medical facilities. In return for the services of Cuban doctors, Venezuela guarantees Cuba delivery of low priced oil.

Thus U.S. meddling in Venezuela impinges upon Cuba. A recent New York Times report charged Cuban doctors in Venezuela with pressuring patients to support the government and political party of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. The implication was that all the Cuban doctors did likewise.

National Security Advisor John Bolton and others in the Trump administration claim that 20,000 Cuban military personnel operate in Venezuela. The unspoken hint is that 20,000 Cuban health workers serving now in Venezuela are military people. Cuba’s Granma newspaper offers perspective: “140,000 Cuban health workers have provided … services in Venezuela” – which would have been lots of soldiers.

The Times article and the Bolton allegations are slanderous. Bolton is an old hand. As under secretary of state for arms control in 2002, he falsely charged Cuba with having ”provided dual-use biotechnology to … rogue states.”

Cuban journalist Randy Alonso Falcon explains why the U.S. government would revive the CMPP. He cites “barefaced brain drain” and disruptive effects leading to reduced income for Cuba’s government. He could have mentioned U.S. enthusiasm for sullying the image of Cuba as paragon of medical solidarity.

Weeks before he died in combat in 1895, emblematic Cuban revolutionary Jose Marti advised a young person in the United States: “Whoever has a lot inside doesn’t need much outside. Whoever is all display on the outside, doesn’t have much inside.”

Dr. Fernando González Isla, head of Cuba’s medical mission in Venezuela, tweeted the quotation. Dr. Marisnely Echemendía Concepción re-tweeted it. Identification with values and ethics must be Cuba’s special weapon in this conflict.

Putin submits bill on suspension of INF Treaty

President Vladimir Putin has submitted to Russia’s parliament a draft resolution on Moscow’s suspension of the INF Treaty with the United States. If the Duma approves the bill, the suspension will become law.

The State Duma will consider the draft later on Thursday. Russian president will be able to renew the suspension at his discretion.

In February, the US announced its unilateral withdrawal from the INF Treaty. It claimed that Russia’s testing of the 9M729 missile breached the terms of the deal.

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The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty came into force in 1987 and banned both the Soviet Union and the US from developing and deploying land-based cruise and ballistic missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 km. The agreement was signed to de-escalate tensions in Europe, where both countries had dozens of such missiles deployed, posing a risk of an accidental nuclear exchange.

The missiles only needed minutes to reach their targets, leaving a very small window for the other side to decide whether a detected attack was a real one, requiring immediate retaliation, or a false positive.

The United States is set to formally leave the treaty in August. 

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China ‘seriously considering’ restricting rare earth exports to US – Global Times chief

Beijing is considering a ban on exports of rare earth metals to the US, editor-in-chief of Chinese state-linked outlet Global Times has tweeted, warning it may not be the last retaliatory move by China as the trade war escalates.

Reports that China may resort to the embargo have been circulating for weeks. If implemented, the move could be really harmful to Washington as there are almost no alternative sources for the elements that are used in a wide range of industries from high-tech to the military.

“Based on what I know, China is seriously considering restricting rare earth exports to the US. China may also take other countermeasures in the future,” Hu Xijin tweeted on Tuesday.

Based on what I know, China is seriously considering restricting rare earth exports to the US. China may also take other countermeasures in the future.

The US has recently increased tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, triggering retaliation from China. Beijing raised levies on $60 billion of American products. However, the vital rare earth minerals have not been subjected to restrictions so far.

A routine visit by President Xi Jinping to a Chinese rare earths facility last week came amid rising tensions between the two countries and shortly after the US turned up the heat on Chinese tech giant Huawei. Despite the lack of any official announcement from Beijing, the visit has triggered fears that China is ready to use the materials, specifically a ban on their export, as an advantage against the US.

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Xi’s visit to one of the major rare earth processing plants sent an “unequivocal statement” to the US, according to independent political analyst Alessandro Bruno. The analyst believes that rare earth metals, essential for the military, aerospace and electronics industries, are “certainly weapons that China can use in its trade negotiation arsenal against Trump.”

“China controls anywhere from 85-95% of all production and supply,” Bruno told RT. He stressed that US companies are highly dependent on rare earth materials and the ban “could cripple global industry, especially emerging technologies.”

“China has many more options than the US when it comes to rare earths and rare earth chess games,” the analyst concluded.

The US used to be leading rare earth producer in 1990, but the situation has changed long ago. In 2018, Beijing increased rare earths mining by 15,000 tons to 120,000 tons, while the US produced just 15,000 tons in total. China holds 44 million tons of the elements if its reserves, while the US just 1.4 million tons.

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Russia Trains Turkish Military on Air Missile System

Ankara, May 22 (Prensa Latina) Turkey has sent military personnel to Russia for their training on how to use the S-400 missile system, the most advanced Russian ballistic technology, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on Wednesday.

Purchasing this weaponry from Russia led Turkey to a strong diplomatic confrontation with the United States, which is trying by all means to prevent its NATO ally from acquiring this type of armament, even threatening to suspend the participation of Turkish companies in the manufacture of the Lockheed Martin F-35 combat aircraft.

On this issue, Akar said that Turkey was fulfilling its responsibilities in the F-35 project and that Ankara expected the program to continue as scheduled, while talks between the two countries are ongoing.

The Minister also said Ankara and Washington are assessing the possibility of Turkey acquiring US-made Patriot missiles based on a price-fixing, technology transfer and joint production agreement.

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‘Laser weapons’ to define Russia’s military potential in 21st century – Putin

Russian leader Vladimir Putin says that laser technology will play a crucial role in the nation’s military might as he spoke about the “first practical results” of the country’s Peresvet combat laser system.

Putin highlighted the importance of developing laser technology, including the “tactical-level combat laser complexes,” at a defense-themed cabinet meeting on Friday.

Such types of weaponry will at large be defining the combat potential of the Russian Army and Navy… throughout the whole of the 21st century.

Putin said that the government will study “the first practical results” of the laser system Peresvet’s performance when used by the military. The cutting-edge weapon formally entered test service in December.

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Named after a famous 14th century Russian patriotic warrior monk, Peresvet was announced by Putin last year.

Nearly everything about the weapon is classified, even its exact purpose. Experts suggest that the laser, among other things, may be used as a jamming device or to neutralize airborne targets, including cruise missiles. Some said that military-grade lasers like that can be used against enemy satellites.

In his speech in March 2018, Putin revealed a number of brand new state-of-the-art weapons. Among them was the air-launched hypersonic missile Kinzhal (‘Dagger’), which later successfully passed trials and was mounted on MiG-31 fighter jets.

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‘Cultural schizophrenia’: Media shift to feelings over facts tearing US apart

Over the past several decades, US news media have shifted towards advocacy and emotional appeals, according to a RAND Corporation study. This is sowing discord in American society, award-winning journalist Chris Hedges tells RT.

The study, released by RAND earlier this week, cautiously argues that between 1987 and 2017, news content has shifted from event- and context-based reporting to coverage that is “more subjective, relies more heavily on argumentation and advocacy, and includes more emotional appeals.”

While prime-time cable news shows and online journalism lead the way in this shift, it has been noticed in print journalism as well, the government-funded think tank concluded. This is contributing to what RAND termed “Truth Decay,” described as a shift away from facts and analysis in public discourse.

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“Cable news networks – CNN, MSNBC, Fox – have given up on journalism,” Hedges told RT, commenting on the RAND report. “They replaced it with reality-show news programs centered around [US President] Donald Trump and his tweets and the Russiagate. There has been a complete walking away from journalism.”

The award-winning international correspondent for several major newspapers who now hosts On Contact, a weekly interview show on RT America, Hedges argued that the deterioration of the American media landscape is “far worse” than the RAND report suggests.

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“Commercial structure that created the old media is gone and it has eviscerated journalism within the country, because it is not sustainable. We saw it with the collapse of the classified advertising, which was 40 percent of the newspapers’ revenues. It is not sustainable economically anymore,” Hedges said.

This has led to the demise of newspapers, both local broadsheets and major powerhouses like the Philadelphia Enquirer. Meanwhile, the internet media has created a “free-for-all space, where people are ghettoized into [groups] with particular belief systems or conspiracy theories they happen to have embraced or support.”

It is difficult to tell apart facts and opinion now, and people believe whatever they want to believe, Hedges explained.

“We spent years watching CNN and MSNBC promoting this conspiracy theory that Trump was a Kremlin agent… It was all garbage but it attracted viewers.”

When journalism is no longer based on facts, it becomes near impossible for the public to untangle what is true and what is false.

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“It creates cultural schizophrenia,” Hedges said, noting that he observed this during the collapse of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, when media drove antagonisms and hatreds between ethnic groups. Similar things are happening in the US right now, as “right-wing media are demonizing Bernie Sanders and Barack Obama by comparing them to Hitler and the left-wing media label all Trump supporters as racists and deplorables.”

“It all creates societal fragmentation and discord,” Hedges told RT. "These schisms could lead to civil unrest – that is what happens here."

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China, Russia… ‘we all have to get rid’ of nukes, Trump says amid reports he eyes arms control deal

Donald Trump has called on the US, Russia, and China to reduce their nuclear arsenals amid reports that his administration is planning to propose a landmark arms control deal with Beijing and Moscow.

In an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity, the US president said that he welcomed Russia’s efforts to help denuclearize the Korean Peninsula – but that more must be done.

“We want to get rid of the nuclear weapons, we all have to get rid [of them]. Russia has to get rid of them, and China has to get rid of them,” Trump stated.

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His comments coincide with reports that the White House is gearing up for an ambitious arms control treaty with Russia and China. The deal, still in its early stages, would impose restrictions on unregulated nuclear weapons and would call on Beijing to join an arms-control pact verifying China’s nuclear capabilities.

In past months, Trump has publicly expressed support for the idea of limiting or reducing the world’s nuclear arsenals.

“Between Russia and China and us, we’re all making hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of weapons, including nuclear [weapons], which is ridiculous,” Trump said in early April.

The president continued: “I think it’s much better if we all got together and we didn’t make these weapons. So I think that’s something that could be a phase two after this [trade war] is done.”

I am certain that, at some time in the future, President Xi and I, together with President Putin of Russia, will start talking about a meaningful halt to what has become a major and uncontrollable Arms Race. The U.S. spent 716 Billion Dollars this year. Crazy!

In December, the president tweeted that he wanted to make a deal with Russia and China to end the “uncontrollable arms race.”

The ambitious plan for promoting non-proliferation clashes with the president’s past approaches to arms control.

Trump announced in February that the US would withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) with Russia. Moscow lambasted the move as a provocation that would lead to a new arms race.

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Trump may also struggle to convince the international community that Washington will honor any new arms control agreements. His decision to unilaterally pull out of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran angered many US allies, and sparked accusations from Tehran that the US is incapable of keeping its word.

 

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Mask off? US ambassador to Russia says US practices diplomacy with aircraft carriers

The US ambassador to Russia, Jon Huntsman, says there is little need for his craft as “200,000 tons of diplomacy” are prowling the waters of the Mediterranean, unabashedly endorsing military show-offs as a political tool.

“Each of the carriers operating in the Mediterranean at this time represent 100,000 tons of international diplomacy,” Huntsman said in a statement to the US Navy’s 6th Fleet.

Huntsman was speaking aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, part of the dual carrier strike group that also consists of the USS John C. Stennis, the Nimitz-class nuclear-powered supercarrier. The warships kicked off their joint training operations on Wednesday. It is the first time since summer 2016 that two carrier strike groups have operated in the Mediterranean at the same time.

Speaking to CNN, Huntsman sang the praises of the US’ maritime muscle, calling US saber-rattling virtually at Russia’s doorstep “forward operating diplomacy.”

When you have 200,000 tons of diplomacy that is cruising in the Mediterranean – this is what I call diplomacy, this is forward operating diplomacy – nothing else needs to be said.

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While Moscow has long criticized the US military build-up near its borders as a hostile move further straining the rocky relationship between the two countries, Huntsman argued that such military maneuvers are somehow a necessary prerequisite for easing tensions with Moscow.

“You have all the confidence you need to sit down and try to find solutions to the problems that have divided us now for many, many years,” he said.

Each US carrier strike group comprises several vessels led by the carriers and dozens of aircraft. A total of 10 ships, 130 aircraft, and 9,000 sailors and marines are taking part in the drills.

  • Published in World
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