Norwegian airliner stranded in Iran for 60 DAYS (and counting) due to US sanctions

A Norwegian commercial airliner which made an emergency landing in Iran in December is still waiting for replacement parts it needs to fly home – components which have been blocked due to sanctions unilaterally imposed by the US.

Norwegian Air flight DY1933 – which ferries passengers between Dubai and Oslo – was forced to make an emergency landing in Shiraz, Iran, on December 14 after experiencing engine trouble. The unscheduled detour went smoothly enough: the plane landed safely, and passengers were able to catch a flight out of Shiraz the following day. The plane itself, however, has remained stranded in Iran due to a lack of spare parts: US sanctions prohibit importing technology into Iran that has more than 10 percent of American-made parts.

Also on EU countries move to evade US’ Iran sanctions by setting up payment channel for ‘humanitarian’ trade...

While it’s possible that Norwegian Air could receive a one-time exemption from the US Treasury Department to import the necessary engine parts, a lawyer who works on sanctions-related issues told NPR that it was a “long shot.”

Ironically, the US sanctions meant to deprive Iran of modernizing and integrating into the global economy may actually backfire in this case: If the Iranians so choose, they could seize the Boeing 737 – which is likely filled with sanctions-restricted technology.

Last year, Washington unilaterally re-imposed wide-ranging sanctions on Tehran after pulling out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), colloquially known as the Iran nuclear deal.

Germany, France and the UK announced in January that they had set up a new payment system which can bypass US sanctions and facilitate “legitimate trade.”

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned in November that there would be “swift punishment” for any countries caught doing business with Iran.

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‘Space is not your property!’ Beijing blasts US report on China & Russia ‘weaponizing’ space

A new US intelligence report portraying Moscow and Beijing as trying to bring warfare into the heavens has drawn the ire of China, which insists that space is not Washington’s “private property.”

Read more Pentagon’s 1st AI strategy vows to keep pace with Russia & China, wants help from tech

“I want to make it clear that outer space belongs to all mankind. It is not exclusively owned by any one country and especially not the private property of the US,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said, referring to the latest paper by the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). 

Hua slammed the “unwarranted and utterly baseless comments” in the DIA report, saying China stands for the peaceful use of space and opposes its militarization.

“For many years,” the spokeswoman stated, “China, Russia and other countries have been working hard and trying to reach an international legal instrument to fundamentally prevent the weaponization of or an arms race in outer space.”

The DIA report – which comes amid Donald Trump’s cosmic endeavors such as the establishment of the Space Command – fans fears of US dominance being challenged everywhere, including space. Russia and China “view space as important to modern warfare and view counterspace capabilities as a means to reduce US and allied military effectiveness,” it claims, noting that both countries have done much to boost their capabilities.

“These capabilities provide their militaries… with enhanced situational awareness, enabling them to monitor, track, and target US and allied forces,” the DIA says.

READ MORE: Trump orders US agencies to turbocharge AI research and ensure American dominance

What it did not say, however, is that a host of senior US military leaders have openly discussed the prospect of offensive weapons being delivered into Earth’s orbit. Former Pentagon chief James Mattis, for instance, said in 2017 that the US needs to have offensive weapons in space “should someone decide to militarize it and go on the offensive.”

In fact, Moscow warned in early January that it’s Washington which is eying space as a potential battlefield. In particular, the Russian Foreign Ministry cited US plans to develop space-based interceptors.

The US, China, Russia, and dozens of other countries are parties to the 1967 Outer Space Treaty that bars weapons of mass destruction from being placed in space and installing them on the Moon or any other celestial body.

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Divided Caribbean Faces Chaos in Event of Military Intervention in Venezuela

Venezuela's relationship with the Caribbean along with the likely fallout are unconsidered factors when the threats of a military intervention are discussed.

When imagining the 28 island nations which form the Caribbean, pictures of long white sand beaches, warm temperatures, and calm waters are all that captures the mind. And while the region may fight this stereotypical view, it has primarily earned this reputation from being one of the few zones of peace in the world and tourism marketing campaigns, where it has positioned itself as a destination for one and all.

RELATED: Uruguay, Mexico Call for Global Peace Conference on Venezuela

The region, however, would have hardly been a consideration when Juan Guaido proclaimed himself interim president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. The unelected United States-backed opposition politician and head of the opposition-controlled National Assembly was an unknown quantity in Venezuelan politics and the region. The act of swearing himself in as president using Article 233 of the country's constitution and his coronation as the only legitimate leader of the South American country by the United States, Canada, the European Union and several right-wing governments across the region has poured gas on Venezuela's current sociopolitical woes as the United States and its allies continue moves to topple President Nicolas Maduro.

The move has, of course, sent shockwaves around Latin America and even the Caribbean, which has over the last 20 years developed closer relations with Venezuela than any other mainland Spanish-speaking country in the region. Venezuela's relationship with the island nations and CARICOM, the region's fifteen-nation regional integration and cooperation body, along with the likely fallout are unconsidered factors when the threats of a military intervention were discussed following U.S. President Donald Trump's declaration that "all options are on the table" to achieve his desired goals in the Latin American nation.

However, if one were to take into context the landscape of the Caribbean and Latin America and the over 70 U.S. military bases and its history of intervention in conflicts real or manufactured around the world and in the region. It would be shortsighted for any realistic observers in those island nations to believe a successful military intervention of any scale would be executed without the active or passive participation of several of the Caribbean countries closer to Venezuela or without the region succumbing to immediate fallout.

The Caribbean has already felt the impact of the United States' and its allies economic war on Venezuela, which was ramped up following President Barack Obama claim that Venezuela was a unique national security threat in 2015.

In the last year alone several countries, especially in the Eastern Caribbean, have documented complaints about the detrimental impact these sanctions have had on normal trade relations with Venezuela especially in the area of oil and gas products, which Venezuela supplied them with under concessions linked to the 2005 PetroCaribe Initiative.

In late 2018, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines acknowledged the issue as a crisis in the making because of their inability to make foreign exchange payments through regular channels with Venezuela.

“It has an indirect effect on us in respect of the trade in fuel,” he explained while detailing the difficulty his country has experienced with fuel imports. 

“These are not tankers which have been contracted for and paid for in a number of different ways. They have to get small vessels to transport the fuel, specially designed to transport the fuel. The problem is that these vessels are not owned by Venezuela and you have to pay for them, as I have been advised, through a United States account. We have a small sum of money for Venezuela under the PetroCaribe agreement, but we can’t get it to them,” he added.

Jamaica could also experience similar issues, with Venezuelan state-owned oil and natural gas company Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) owning 49 percent of the Jamaican oil refinery Petrojam, through the subsidiary PDV Caribe. 

Trinidad and Tobago, the region's largest economy, positioned just seven miles from Venezuela with its western coast with the eyesight of South America has faced its challenges in this realm. Although Trinidad and Tobago has its own oil and gas riches, its recent agreement to develop petrochemical products from Venezuela's Dragon Fields, which could produce 50 mil­li­on stan­dard cu­bic feet per day (mm­scf/d), with the pos­si­bil­i­ty of it in­creas­ing to 300 mm­scf/d, has faced threats from the most recent round of U.S. sanctions and from opposition legislators, who have threated to blacklist the country for working with the current Venezuelan administration.

Haiti also has a considerable vulnerable due to the PetroCaribe programme. Haiti due to various political crises and the devastating earthquake in February 2010, successive governments have seen Venezuela as a stable partner and source of support. Venezuela's current circumstances have seen a steady decline in PetroCaribe funding. This decline coupled with claims of the misuse of those funds leads to thousands of Haitians protesting for weeks in October and November. Citizens have called for trails for those responsible for the alleged abuse of funds along with the resignation of President Jovenel Moïse, who had proposed the use of some of these funds to embark on an ambitious infrastructure investment plan

Protesters march to demand an investigation into what they say is the alleged misuse of a Venezuela-sponsored oil programme. Photo: Andres Martinez Casares/Reuters

More recently and with the ongoing human impacts these sanctions have had on the South American country's economy, the Caribbean has also been inundated with an inflow of Venezuelan migrants many of whom have journeyed to take advantage of the more favorable Visa requirements offered to Venezuelan citizens. 

With the United Nations projecting 3.6 million persons leaving Venezuela, Trinidad and Tobago which has a population of 1.3 million people, has taken in over 40,000 Venezuelans according to its government's estimates. While the Dutch islands of Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao along with the mainland territories of Guyana and Suriname have also faced similar challenges, although the numbers haven't been as well documented. 

Venezuela, which has a population of 32 million, could see many more citizens leave if a military intervention did take place. Syria's ongoing civil war, for example, forced over 10 million persons from their homes with almost six million taking refuge in neighboring countries. Syria has a population of some 22 million persons.

While these countries may be united in their inability to manage the inflows of Venezuelan migrants, significant divisions have emerged in the Caribbean Community's (CARICOM) response to the most recent developments. 

Those divisions in CARICOM were laid bare when Jamaica, Saint Lucia, the Bahamas, Haiti, and Guyana voted along with the United States and several right-wing Latin American governments at the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States to declare Maduro's second term illegitimate. While Saint Vincent and the Grenadines led a group, consisting of Suriname and Dominica, which voted against the resolution.

The representatives from Saint Vincent and the Grenadines asserted in voting against the resolution: "The presidential election was assessed by many objective observers, including the Caribbean Observer Mission, to be free and fair. The results reflected the will of the people. A government has been truly elected by the people and for the people. We must respect the sovereign will of the people of Venezuela, nothing more, nothing less."

Five members of CARICOM, Saint Kitts, Trinidad & Tobago, Barbados, Belize, and Grenada abstained from the vote.

The measure at the OAS, in the end, proved ineffectual, with 18 countries opposing the interventionist move.

After the vote and the move internationally to recognize Guaidó, several Caribbean leaders decried the Trump administration's declarations with Saint Vincent's Gonsalves branding it a "Coup d’ Etat” while speaking to the Miami Herald and Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne calling it “brazen regime change.”

“The majority of countries that are in Caricom do not accept Juan Guaidó as the interim president,” Browne said. "In fact, we believe that it is an extremely dangerous precedent... which has absolutely no basis in law, it has no constitutional backing, it has no support of international law, and it’s really an affront to democracy within the hemisphere."

Browne also warned the Caribbean should be careful not to be drawn into the ideological war unfolding in Venezuela with the goal of merely removing Maduro from office.

“These people are fighting an ideological war. They believe that socialism in Venezuela would plunge the people into poverty and so on. They want to get rid of these socialist regimes. Okay fine, they can fight their ideological wars, but we have to deal with the practicality and the effects (on the region),” Browne said.

Trinidad and Tobago's Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley has also had similarly strong words for U.S. officials, who have attempted to force CARICOM members into changing their position on the conflict. Rowley sent a clear message to the U.S. Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago Joseph Mondello, who had said he was “deeply concerning” with Trinidad and Tobago's continued recognition of the Maduro administration.

“I take umbrage at the United States’ ambassador in Trinidad and Tobago making a public statement criticizing the actions of the government of Trinidad and Tobago while we take action in protection of the interests of the people of Trinidad and Tobago,” Rowley said in the country's Parliament last Friday.

“We in Trinidad and Tobago under all of our governments, we have preserved the sovereign position of the people of Trinidad and Tobago,” he added. “Until there is a change of government in Venezuela, as Mr. Patrick Manning said when you pick up the phone, is who answer the phone (is) in charge of Venezuela. What they are asking us to do is to take sides largely contrived by external forces. If you are going to have a change of regime in today’s world post-World War 2 and you want to do it properly, you’re required to go through the UN and sanction it. Trinidad and Tobago will not be invited to take any interest that would damage our relations with neighbors.”

UN Secretary-General His Excellency Antonio Guterres, third from left, Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley, left, Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley, second from left, CARICOM Chair and Prime Minister of St Kitts and Nevis Dr. Timothy Harris, third from right, and CARICOM General Secretary Irwin LaRocque, second from right. Twitter/@OPM_TT

Some of these strongly worded and divided positions lead to an emergency of CARICOM member states were 12 out of the 15 signed on to a collective statement reaffirming the CARICOM guiding principle of “non-intervention and non-interference” in the affairs of sovereign nations on January 24. The signatories include Jamaica and St. Lucia, who reversed the positions they had taken in favor of the OAS resolution on January 10. CARICOM chairman and St Kitts-Nevis Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris, Trinidad and Tobago's Rowley, as well as Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley, also met with United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, on Monday in New York to outline their position and discuss the ongoing sociopolitical situation in Venezuela.

A statement issued after the talks clearly outlined their fear over the fallout from of external military intervention in the Venezuelan crisis.

"The CARICOM delegation emphasized its commitment to the tenets of Article 2(4) of the UN Charter which calls on states to refrain from the threat or the use of force. CARICOM has been consistent in the critical importance it accords to the key principles of non-interference and non-intervention. CARICOM reaffirmed the view that there was an urgent need for meaningful dialogue leading to a peaceful internal solution for the Venezuelan people. The Caribbean Community is resolute in its belief that it is never too late for dialogue since the consequences of no dialogue will be dire," a joint statement issued by the body said.

The statement also emphasized “the importance of the Caribbean remaining a Zone of Peace,” an idea first coin by Maurice Bishop, who came to power in Grenada in a revolution that toppled the government of Eric Gairy in 1979. 

“We join with our sister Caribbean nations in re-emphasizing our determination to preserve the Caribbean as a zone of peace, free from military intimidation. We demand the right to build our own processes in our own way, free from outside interference, free from bullying and free from the use or threat of force,”  Bishop, who was later killed in a bloody invasion of the country by the United States, said.

The position was reaffirmed in 2014 at the Second Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) in Havana, Cuba, hoping to avoid a repeat of its bloody history of colonialism and in the even more bloody political conflicts experienced by several countries in Latin America over the last sixty years.

The Caribbean's long-held position of “non-intervention and non-interference” has often been reiterated by many of its leaders over the last few decades. If its governments intend to stand by those principles, avoiding the overtures of the world's declining superpower to support their position, it can play an important role in charting a way forward for the hemisphere.  Since the continued destabilization of Venezuela would create chaos and economic, military and social problems many territories are ill-equipped to manage.


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US production of new nuke warhead increases risk of nuclear war – Russian FM

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has accused the US of bringing a nuclear conflict closer after the Trump administration ordered the production of a new nuclear warhead, the W76-2.

The country’s top diplomat reminded journalists that Moscow voiced its concern last year that the production of small-capacity nuclear weapons “lowers the threshold of nuclear weapons use and, of course, boosts the risk of a nuclear conflict.”

“Apparently, these plans were put into practice,” Lavrov said. “Certainly, it won’t contribute to global security.”

Russia will now await Europe’s reaction to the US move to begin production of the new weapon.

Also on ‘The new abnormal’: Doomsday clock holds steady at two minutes to midnight... 

The warhead, known as the W76-2, is being produced at the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Pantex Plant in the Texas Panhandle, according to the National Nuclear Security Agency. The US Navy is expected to receive the first batch of new warheads in September.

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Russia unveils evidence on missile that US claims violates INF Treaty, Washington snubs briefing

The Russian military presented evidence contrary to the US claim that Moscow possesses a missile which violates the terms of the INF Treaty. The Americans had been invited to the event but apparently were not interested.

The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) was signed by the US and the USSR to denuclearize the European continent. The treaty bans ground-based missiles with a range between 500km and 5,500km – plenty of which had been deployed by both sides of the Cold War by the time it was signed. The US is about to scrap it, citing alleged violations by Russia.

Russian military presents 9M729 missile, which US claimed violates...

Despite claims from Washington, the American move is motivated by America’s self-interest, not anything done by Russia, told journalists on Wednesday Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov. He took part in a joint conference with top generals from the Russian Defense Ministry, meant to provide extra details about the missile, which the US claims are in breach of the INF. The diplomat stressed that complaints from Washington are simply a pretext to walk away from the deal, which the current US leadership no longer wants.

The recent events make it obvious that some forces in the US are not interested in allowing us to overturn through technical expert dialogue the erroneous – or even fabricated – information, which could resolve this issue once and for all. Hyping up this problem was not done to simply resolve it, obviously.

Speaking alongside Ryabkov was General Lieutenant Mikhail Matveevsky, the commander of the Russian Missile and Artillery Troops, who went into details about the 9M729 missile, the one that the Americans claim to be violating the agreement. Washington says it has intelligence data, which prove that the projectile was tested several years ago for a range banned by the INF. But apparently, it was not interested in evidence from Russia, since no American experts were sent to the event, according to Ryabkov.

The missile, Gen. Matveevsky said, is an upgraded variant of the 9M729, a cruise missile launched by the Iskander-M launcher. Compared to the older version, the 9M729 has a heavier, more powerful warhead, and a more accurate but bulkier targeting system. This required increasing the missile’s length and the size of its transport and launch container.

The size increase made it incompatible with the launcher used for the 9M728 version, so the defense ministry had a new launcher developed for it. It is bigger and carries four 9M729 missiles, compared to two for the 9M728 variant. He showed diagrams of both weapons for comparison.

The increased size had an impact on the range of the 9M729, which is not only below the threshold of the INF, but also about 10km lower than that of the 9M728. The bigger missile can fly up to 480 km, and was tested to that range during a major military exercise in 2017, the official said.

Gen. Matveevsky stressed that the 9M729 is a solid-propellant missile that is sealed in its container at the plant and can not be modified in the field.

As for the US claim that one test of the missile breached the terms of the INF, Matveevsky assured the intelligence was wrong. The launch pad, from which the supposedly violating launch was made, is used by other branches of the Russian armed forces to test their weapons. Those include long-range strategic missiles, the tests of which are conducted with prior notifications of the US, as is required by the transparency rules between the two countries. The general provided statistics for test launches conducted from the site between 2008 and 2014 for reference.

Also on US & Russia trade blame on INF as last-ditch talks to save nuclear treaty fail in Geneva...

The journalists were also given a chance to compare the 9M728 and the 9M729, which were displayed in their containers, and inspect the 9M729 launcher. According to Ryabkov, US military inspectors were offered a chance to take part in the Wednesday event, but Washington chose to ignore it. US officials reportedly said there was no sense inspecting the Russian missile since the Russian side refused to allow opening it up and seeing its classified internal structure.

The diplomat reiterated Russia’s own complaints about US actions, which Moscow sees a violation of the INF, including the use of intermediate-range target missiles during tests of ABM weapons. Russia believes that the INF has to be preserved, Ryabkov added, but stressed that it will not destroy its stockpile of 9M729 missiles, as demanded by the US.

The US indents to withdraw from the INF on February 2, after last-ditch talks in Geneva failed to resolve the stand-off.


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Cuba categorically rejects the threat of activation of Title III of the Helms-Burton Act

Statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cuba.

On January 16, 2019, the United States State Department announced the decision to suspend for only 45 days the application of Title III of the Helms-Burton Act, “to conduct a careful review… in light of the national interests of the United States and efforts to expedite a transition to democracy in Cuba and include factors such as the Cuban regime’s brutal oppression of human rights and fundamental freedoms and its indefensible support for increasingly authoritarian and corrupt regimes in Venezuela and Nicaragua.”

The government of President Donald Trump threatens to take a new step that would dangerously reinforce the blockade against Cuba, flagrantly violate International Law, and directly attack the sovereignty and interests of third countries.

Cuba rejects this threat in the most energetic, firm and categorical way. It regards it as a hostile act of extreme arrogance and irresponsibility, while condemning the disrespectful and slanderous language of the State Department’s public message.

The Helms-Burton Act came into force in 1996. It was devised to codify and tighten the economic, commercial and financial blockade policy, officially imposed in 1962, with the aim of subverting and overthrowing the Cuban government, and imposing a regime to the liking of the United States government.

It consists of four titles and has been applied since its promulgation. It is characterized by its extreme extraterritorial scope, as it violates the norms and principles of International Law, contravenes the rules of international trade and economic relations, and is harmful to the sovereignty of other States, in particular through the application of its provisions against companies and people established in their territory.

It has been almost unanimously rejected by the international community in the United Nations, in specialized international organizations, and in regional organizations such as the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States and the African Union. Several countries have national laws to deal with the extraterritorial effects of this law.

Among the key objectives of the Helms-Burton Act is to hamper Cuba’s economic, commercial and financial relations with third countries, and undermine its ability to attract direct foreign capital investment for its development. Titles III and IV of the law are expressly devoted to this purpose.

Title III establishes the authorization for United States nationals to file suits before U.S. courts against any alien who “traffics” U.S. property that was nationalized in Cuba in the 1960s, in a legitimate process, as recognized by the Supreme Court of the United States, carried out by the Cuban government in full compliance with national law and International Law.

Among the most significant aberrations, this title extends this authorization to owners who were not citizens of the United States at the time of the nationalizations, and whose alleged possessions no one has certified.

Under the provisions of the Helms-Burton Act itself, all U.S. Presidents since 1996, including Trump in 2017 and 2018, have made consecutive use of executive power to suspend the application of Title III every six months, recognizing that it consists of the grossest and most unacceptable aspect of this law, contrary to International Law and the sovereignty of other States. Also understanding that its application would pose insurmountable obstacles for any prospect of settling claims and compensation for legitimate U.S. owners.

For its part, the People’s Provincial Court of Havana, on November 2, 1999, upheld the lawsuit filed against the United States Government for Human Damages, and sentenced it to pay reparations and compensate the Cuban people to the amount of $181.100 billion dollars and, on May 5, 2000, also for Economic Damages caused to Cuba, and sentenced it to pay $121 billion dollars.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has reiterated Cuba’s willingness to find a solution to the mutual claims and compensations.

This decision that the United States government threatens to adopt would imply that, contrary to what is established in International Law and the practice of international relations, foreign individuals and entities with legitimate businesses in Cuba may face the threat of unfounded and illegitimate claims before courts of the United States. The politically motivated and venal behavior of certain courts in Florida, frequently used as a weapon against Cuba, is well known.

For our people, it means once again resolutely, consciously and forcefully confronting the insistence of U.S. imperialism to subjugate the destiny of the Cuban nation to its dominion and tutelage.

If Title III is applied as established by this law and as the announcement of the Department of State threatens, any Cuban and every community in the country will see claims brought before United States courts for ownership of the housing they occupy, their workplace, the schools their children attend, the polyclinics where they receive medical attention, the land on which their neighborhoods are built; and they will be able to observe the aim of usurping the country’s wealth, infrastructure, arable land, industries, mining resources, energy potential, and the foundations on which science and technology are developed and services provided to the population.

We should all recall the aberrant contents of the Plan Bush that describes and sets out in detail how Cuban families and the country would be deprived of practically everything.

For more than twenty years, the Helms-Burton Act has guided the interventionist efforts of anti-Cuban sectors in the United States to attack the Cuban nation and undermine its sovereignty. By virtue of its application, hundreds of millions of dollars have been approved to subvert the domestic order in Cuba, and innumerable measures have been put in place to try to provoke regime change. Its economic impact has implied a high cost for the country’s development efforts and for the welfare of the population, with a humanitarian impact that is no greater thanks to the social justice system that prevails in Cuba.

The intention to fully apply Title III is promoted against the criteria of major U.S. government agencies, and as a consequence of the power and influence on the government of people whose political careers have been marked by impotent resentment against Cuba, and based on the use of lies and blackmail.

The majority of the United States public consistently opposes the economic blockade, as recognized by the most respected surveys.

History records with sufficient clarity that the policy of economic blockade and the bilateral problems between Cuba and the United States do not have their origin in the just nationalizations that, according to the law and with legitimate rights, were carried out by the revolutionary government. The military, economic and terrorist attacks of the United States government against Cuba began before the fundamental nationalization acts of U.S. properties took place.

It is well-known that all nationalizations of foreign property, including that of the U.S., were provided by law with a commitment to compensation, which the U.S. government refused even to discuss, while it was adopted by the governments of claimants of other countries, all of which enjoyed due compensation.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs reiterates the postulates of the Reaffirmation of Cuban Dignity and Sovereignty Act (Law No. 80), and emphasizes that the Helms-Burton Act is unlawful, unenforceable, void and without legal effect. Consequently, it will consider null all claims based on it by individuals or legal entities, whatever their citizenship or nationality.

The government of Cuba reserves the right to duly respond to this new aggression.

Havana, January 17, 2019

  • Published in Cuba

Trump cancels Davos trip citing ‘Democrat intransigence’ on shutdown

US President Donald Trump has canceled his planned trip to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, citing the ongoing impasse with congressional Democrats that’s keeping parts of the US government closed for a third week.

Trump, who is visiting the US-Mexico border on Thursday, tweeted from Texas that he will be “respectfully canceling” the Davos trip because of the “Democrats intransigence on border security.”

Because of the Democrats intransigence on Border Security and the great importance of Safety for our Nation, I am respectfully cancelling my very important trip to Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum. My warmest regards and apologies to the !

The Davos conference is scheduled to start on January 22, so Trump’s announcement means the current government shutdown may continue to that date and beyond.

The US government has been partially shut down for 20 days now, after Senate Democrats refused to back a Republican-majority House bill that would allocate $5.7 billion to building the border wall just before Christmas.

Democrats took over the House on January 3, and have proposed several bills to reopen the government, but have rejected any funding for the wall, ever, calling it “immoral.”

Also on ‘Total waste of time’: Trump walks out of shutdown talks with Democrats...

Trump walked out of a meeting with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-California) on Wednesday, calling it a “waste of time” because the Democrats were not willing to negotiate.

Some 800,000 federal workers will soon miss their expected paychecks, and each side has accused the other of ignoring their needs and interests.

  • Published in World

Cyberattack Hits US Newspaper Distribution

A cyberattack caused major printing and delivery disruptions on Saturday at the Los Angeles Times and other major US newspapers, including ones owned by Tribune Publishing Co such as the Chicago Tribune and Baltimore Sun.

The cyberattack appeared to originate outside the United States, the Los Angeles Times reported, citing a source with knowledge of the situation.

The attack led to distribution delays in the Saturday edition of The Times, Tribune, Sun and other newspapers that share a production platform in Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Tribune Publishing, whose newspapers also include the New York Daily News and Orlando Sentinel, said it first detected the malware on Friday.

The West Coast editions of the Wall Street Journal and New York Times were hit as they are also printed on the shared production platform, the Los Angeles Times said.

Tribune Publishing spokeswoman Marisa Kollias said the virus hurt back-office systems used to publish and produce "newspapers across our properties."

"There is no evidence that customer credit card information or personally identifiable information has been compromised," Kollias said in a statement

The Wall Street Journal and New York Times did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Most San Diego Union-Tribune subscribers were without a newspaper on Saturday as the virus infected the company's business systems and hobbled its ability to publish, the paper's editor and publisher Jeff Light wrote on its website.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security said it was studying the situation.

"We are aware of reports of a potential cyber incident affecting several news outlets, and are working with our government and industry partners to better understand the situation," said DHS spokeswoman Katie Waldman in a statement.

Representatives of the Federal Bureau of Investigation were not immediately available for comment.

  • Published in World
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