Withdraw first, ask later: He nuked Russia-US relations, now Bolton arrives in Moscow to talk

The alleged mastermind behind the US pullout from the historic INF treaty, John Bolton will expect a wintry reception in Moscow, with only the embers of the long-forgotten Helsinki summit to warm the parties.

Washington can be commended at least on laying its cards on the table with Friday’s announcement by Donald Trump that he was considering withdrawing from the Gorbachev-Reagan 1987 agreement, which limits both sides from producing intermediate range missiles.

But the news is likely to cast a pall over Bolton’s two-day visit, during which the National Security Advisor will meet not only his Russian counterpart Nikolay Patrushev, but foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and, on Tuesday, likely Vladimir Putin himself, though the face-to-face has not been given final approval by the Kremlin.

 
Pershing IA missile launcher and RSD-10 Pioneer (SS-20) missile. © Wikimedia Commons / RIA Novosti / Sputnik

 

The foreign ministry has already demanded “to hear a coherent explanation” of Washington’s actions, while various senior Russian officials have called the prospect of withdrawal “blackmail”, “a landmine under the nuclear disarmament process”, and a harbinger of “complete chaos in the sphere of nuclear armaments.”

And this is not one Bolton can blame on his boss. Appointed only in March, Bolton has become arguably the most influential US foreign policy architect, and is a long-time critic of arms control treaties. According to senior staff sources who spoke to the Guardian and the Washington Post last week, he personally persuaded Trump to quit INF. Stateside reports indicate that despite Trump’s customarily hazy pronouncements, Bolton will definitively signal US intentions to leave – a six-month notice is required to leave the indefinite-term agreement - during the Russian visit.

For nearly two decades the two states have taken turns claiming the other is violating the treaty, which bars both of them from producing all land-based ballistic and cruise missiles – not just nuclear-tipped ones – with ranges between 500 and 5,500 km. The Pentagon – citing its classified intelligence –claims that Russia has developed an intermediate range missile for the Iskander-M launcher, the existence of which Moscow has never acknowledged. In turn, Russia insists that the launchers that form the US missile defense shield in eastern Europe are themselves capable of firing intermediate range missiles, and should be destroyed under the terms of the agreement.

But the likelihood is, even if Moscow somehow assures Bolton that it is perfectly compliant, Washington is not interested. INF was signed in a two-bloc world that was ending an arms race but, in the intervening years, other world powers have sprung up and developed their own intermediate missiles, while Russia and the US are the only major countries that continue to suffer restrictions. In his oblique manner, Trump hinted at this on Friday, when he said that a new agreement may be possible, but would have to include China.

 
FILE PHOTO.

 

While getting all the three major powers to sign such a self-limiting document in the current conditions seems like a phantom prospect, if Bolton had come bearing a new proposal, he could have at least let all sides save face. Instead, he landed in Moscow with a unilateral decision that – like many others recently taken by Washington – leaves the Russians with little scope for a constructive counter-move.

Meanwhile, a little diplomatic smoothness from the famously straight-shooting veteran hawk would have gone a long way this week. The parties have important international issues to discuss: North Korea, where the US reportedly has no plans to drop its sanctions, Iran in the aftermath of the JCPOA withdrawal by Trump, and Syria, which remains a bloody theater of operations. As well as the fate of the nuclear control New START treaty, which expires in 2021, which neither side will likely dare to mention now. Arranging a new meeting between Putin and Trump, which many speculated had been the buried agenda of such a high-powered series of talks, now also becomes harder, as real opportunities loom during several upcoming international events.

READ MORE: As Bolton heads to Moscow, US charges another Russian with ‘election meddling’

The Helsinki summit in July between Putin and Trump may have been famously short on specifics – though Bolton name-checked it before flying overseas – it did signal a potential warming of relations that a Russian official this week described as being “in dire straits.” But with every action taken by Washington since, the goodwill has dwindled and, instead of making things better, this week both sides will simply hope to avoid aggravating the strife.

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Cuban Mission at UN Warns of US Blockade's Damage

Cuba''s diplomatic mission at UN stressed how the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States, which is now intensifying its actions, is a brake on achieving sustainable development.

That siege is the main obstacle to the development of all Cuban economy's potentialities, the diplomatic representative said through a press release.

The blockade is the main obstacle to the development of the economic, commercial and financial relations between Havana and Washington, and due to its extraterritorial nature, Cuba with the rest of the world, it also stressed.

This policy, which is still in force after 56 years, is a massive, flagrant and systematic violation of the human rights of the Cuban people and is described as an act of genocide, in accordance with the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, adopted in 1948, the Cuban mission said.

At the same time, it ignores the 26 resolutions adopted by the international community within the framework of the UN General Assembly and that dictate the end, without any conditioning, of its actions on Cuba.

This is also reflected in the most recent report on the damage caused by the blockade on Cuba, a mechanism that violates the Charter of the United Nations and International Law, and represents an obstacle to cooperation.

According to that report, only from April 2017 to March 2018, that hostile policy has caused losses to Cuba valued at $4.32 billion USD.

This is so far the most unjust, severe and prolonged system of unilateral sanctions that has been applied against any country, since it was instituted on February 3, 1962, by John F. Kennedy, who served as the 35th president of the United States.

The increase in the negative effects of the worsening of the blockade on the state economy and the non-state sector of the island are evident as of the serious setback in the bilateral relations, imposed by U.S. President Donald Trump and embodied in the memorandum signed on June 16, 2017.

In November 2017, the U.S. Departments of Commerce, Treasury and State issued new regulations and provisions that strengthened the extraterritorial application of the blockade and intensified the persecution of financial transactions and banking and credit operations with Cuba globally.

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US Blockade on Cuba Is Unfair, WHO Says

The blockade imposed by the United States government on Cuba is unfair, Cristian Morales, representative in Havana of the World Health Organization/Pan American Health Organization (WHO/PAHO), said today.

Therefore, we join the majority position of the countries at the time of the historic vote at the UN General Assembly, Morales told Prensa Latina in this capital.

That policy damages the development and health of the Cuban people, and forces national authorities to make double and triple efforts to keep the equipment running and guarantee medicines that are needed, he said.

Two thirds of those medicines consumed are produced in Cuba, but sometimes that amount needs raw materials coming from abroad, sometimes becomes a hindrance to this blockade, the UN official said.

There are some medications that are not produced on the island and need to be imported, but instead of being brought from Latin America, or the United States itself, they have to be purchased from China or Europe, he stated.

Also, those companies that sell them, have to make sure they do not have any U.S. component, because they can be subject to sanctions, he said.

In this way, the country is affected, including its health system, because it has to pay more for the same, the PAHO/WHO representative concluded.

The Cuban government will denounce on October 31 the worsening of the blockade at the UN General Assembly.

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Cuba Describes U.S. Blockade as Main Obstacle for Its Development

Havana, Sep 2 (Prensa Latina) The economic, commercial and financial blockade of the United States constitutes the main obstacle for the development of Cuba, as it affects plans aimed at the country''s progress, denounced the island's government.

In its most recent report on the impact of the current fence for almost six decades, Havana warned that it slows down the implementation of the Cuban Economic and Social Development Plan and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the latter adopted in 2015 by the 193 member states of the UN.

According to the Cuban Foreign Affairs Ministry, the blockade not only hits the links with the United States, but its extraterritorial nature also attacks economic, commercial and financial exchanges with the rest of the world.

On October 31, the United Nations General Assembly will vote for the twenty-seventh consecutive occasion since 1992 a draft resolution demanding the lifting of sanctions imposed on the island, an initiative similar to the ones that have always been categorically supported by 191 countries in the last three years.

According to the report of the Cuban Foreign Ministry facing the new vote, the blockade accumulates damages that reach 933.6 billion dollars, taking into account the depreciation of the dollar against the value of gold in the international market.

The arrival of Repulican President Donald Trump at the White House in January of 2017, meant an additional hit to the efforts of the Caribbean country in pursuit of its socio-economic development.

'Many foreign counterparts have interpreted that they can not make deals or continue operating with the companies included in the list,' the report stressed.

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Thousands of teachers in Washington state strike over salaries

(Reuters) - Nearly 80,000 students in Washington state were unable to attend the first day of school this week as thousands of teachers went on strike seeking higher salaries, teacher’s unions said.

Educators in seven school districts in southwestern Washington were on strike as early as mid-August and the number of walkouts was expected to rise, according to the Washington Education Association, which represents teachers in the state.

Teachers seeking enhanced education funding also have walked out in recent months in West Virginia, Arizona and Oklahoma.

More Washington educators would walk out next week. Teachers in Seattle - the state’s most-populated city - on Tuesday gave their union authority to call for a strike unless a contract deal is reached before classes resume there on Sept. 5, according to the Seattle Education Association.

Seattle Public Schools officials said the district backs educators and believes it has provided them with fair and competitive salaries, but it said on Wednesday that it must also manage its budget to provide services for students.

“We must balance our desire to support our educators while at the same time sustaining critical services and programs students need and families expect,” Seattle school officials said in a statement. “Even with offering every state dollar, starting in 2019-20 the district is projecting a budget shortfall that will grow over time.”

Contract renegotiation began in most of Washington’s 295 school districts, which serve more than 1 million students, after state lawmakers this year approved an additional $1 billion hike for educators’ salaries for the upcoming school year, according to the Seattle Times.

The Vancouver Education Association union said its proposal for salary increases only includes the money specifically allocated by the state for salaries and that it would not negatively impact students.

“School districts across the state have already settled fair contracts,” the Vancouver union said on its website. “We are currently in the midst of a statewide educator shortage crisis. We cannot afford to have our highly qualified teachers leave for other, more competitive districts.”

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US violated international law over Russian diplomatic missions, Moscow tells Washington

Washington has violated international law with respect to Russian diplomatic missions in the US, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a protest note filed to DC.

 

FILE PHOTO: Ballerina at the original Bolshoi Theatre stage © Ramil Sitdikov

The ministry expressed “protest at the continued violation of international law by the US with regard to” Russian diplomatic missions and consulates in the US, according to a statement on its website.

The complaint concerns Russian diplomatic properties in Washington DC, San Francisco, and Seattle, as well as in the states of Maryland and New York.Moscow said that the “negative consequences” undermine not only US-Russian relations, but also “the principles of the sovereignty of states and international cooperation.”

Moscow said that it has a right to take “additional countermeasures” against US diplomatic property on Russian soil if the US “continues violations” against its facilities.

In a separate statement, also released on Friday, the Foreign Ministry  urged the UN Secretary-General to look into the matter.The relevant letter to Antonio Guterres was sent on May 18, the ministry said.

The diplomatic spat between Moscow and Washington dates back to December 2016, when on New Year’s Eve, the outgoing Obama administration expelled Russian diplomats and closed two Russian diplomatic compounds in New York and Maryland.

Russia did not immediately retaliate as the new Trump administration was taking office. However, the downward trend in US-Russia ties persisted and, in the summer of 2017, Washington slapped a new round of sanctions on Moscow, which retaliated by ordering the US diplomatic mission to downsize.

In response, the US took new hostile action, shutting the Russian Consulate-General in San Francisco, as well as the country’s trade missions in Washington and New York.

In May this year, US authorities removed the Russian flag from the diplomatic compound in Seattle. The Russian embassy condemned this “unacceptable treatment” of the national symbol.

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Cuba is not alone

The audacity of the people of Cuba to defend a system of Government in humanism and social justice promotes increasingly admiration worldwide for his people and the resistance against the aggression of the United States.

Proof of this is the arrival on the island, 50 years of social activists from around the world to demonstrate its recognition to the Cubans in the preservation of the revolutionary project chosen 1st of January 1959, even with the economic pressures and policies of its neighbor to the North.

In July, members of the Jose Marti European brigade of solidarity with Cuba was called to promote and increase activism in favor of the island and Latin America International, as the siege of Washington has increased in modern times.

The young Italian journalist Niccola Matellini, one of the 90 members of the Organization, considered in statements to Prensa Latina that the realization of brigades like the José Martí help convey information about visited sites, in this case Cuba.

However, he insisted on the need for increasing activism and the dissemination of the work to strengthen support for the resistance of the Cuban people in the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States for almost 60 years.

Edna Martínez, Colombian resident in Germany, said that with the invisibilization of truth, right aims to establish the idea that any attempt to change towards a less unequal society is doomed to failure.

Therefore, he said that show the experiences of Cuba, the revolution and socialism is a great way to expand the horizon of what is happening on the planet.

As usual, the activists from Germany, Czech Republic, Spain, France, Russia, Switzerland, Greece, Italy, Portugal, United Kingdom, Sweden and Belgium joined the social dynamics, marched through economic, social, and historical sites, They labored in agriculture and shared with the people in neighborhoods and communities.

Similar program had at the beginning of August the 25th Brigade Latin American and Caribbean solidarity with Cuba, whose members joined the celebrations of the people by the anniversary 92 of the birth of the Commander in Chief, Fidel Castro, architect of the struggles by the defence of the sovereignty and independence of the country.

To receive them in the Julio Antonio Mella international camp, located in the town of Caimito, in the Western Province of ARTEMIS, the Vice President of the Cuban Institute of friendship with the peoples (ICAP), Jose Prieto Cintado, highlighted the support of those social fighters to fight the American siege of Cubans.

The leader of the ICAP argued that also support the claim of Cuba for the return of the territory illegally occupied the northern country with the naval base in the Eastern Province of Guantanamo.

Cintado highlighted the efforts of the brigades to disseminate the truth about the greater of the Antilles in their countries, where large transnational of the communication, in the service of the right, are trying to tarnish the project humanistic meaning the Cuban revolution.

Irina Bisceglia, Argentinean 31 years of age, the Cuban Government project is a conquest at the level of evolution of society, and worthy example of how a life can be achieved with the participation of a State which represents human rights and other important issues for the citizens.

Therefore, in his opinion, reaching Cuba is an opportunity to secure convictions and ideals, and return to their country now facing a complex political and economic crisis.

Chilean activist Leyla Cárdenas said here that the island represents the certainty that it is possible a world fair, equitable, sustainable and focused on the well-being of men, away from the selfishness that ponders the capitalism.

Cardenas, who belongs in Chile to the collective in solidarity with Cuba-Venezuela-Salvador Allende, highlighted the example that mean the social achievements of the largest of the Antilles, in the midst of an economic war.

Similarly, confirmed that it grows in Chile the admiration for the island for his unwavering struggle in achieving development and in defense of the majorities, so highlighted, many of his countrymen believe, dream and love Cuba, even not knowing it.

Meanwhile, the Dominican Pablo Castillo praised the courage, dignity and ethics of Cubans in Imaging and defense of a fairer society, and stated that those values are the standard that will enable them to reach their goal of the development of a prosperous country equitable and sustainable.

"Cubans, constantly besieged by American imperialism, reflect the courage and perseverance of the Commander in Chief Fidel Castro and the heroes who fought for the independence of the nation," he said.

  • Published in Cuba

U.S.-Democracy: How does it work?

Nathan Larson is a self-confessed pedophile and white supremacist. And he’s currently running for Congress in Virginia.

Once again facts show how political system works in the United States. Last Tuesday, some sources described it unquestionably.

For example, ahead of the next primary elections that take place in eight states of the country, where the candidates of both parties, as well as alleged independent ones, will be nominated.

A candidate who calls himself independent, Nathan Larson, during an interview with Huffington Post daily said:

“A lot of people are tired of political correctness and being restricted by it. People prefer an outsider who has nothing to lose and is willing to say what’s on a lot of people’s minds.”

Larson, 37, is running for a congressional seat in Virginia.

Ten years ago, he ran for the House of Delegates but failed, and later he was sent to jail in 2009 for threatening to kill the then President Barack Obama.

However, this was not his biggest sin, he, father of a daughter, admitted before the press that he was the main responsible of several events via the Internet geared at advising pedophiles.  

According to the sources, the Virginia congressional candidate considers that the word pedophile is “a tag”, plays down importance to violence and dares to defend the authority of a man to beat his wife.

Another example is that of Don Blankenship, independent too, who is getting into politics now, after serving a year in prison for the death of 29 workers in 2010, because of the explosion of a coal mine, owned by the company that he managed.

Blakenship, self-defined “more Trumpist than Trump”, rejects to have a low profile while running for US Senate from West Virginia and seeks fame with statements that have been deemed disrespectful and even racist.

This controversial candidate, 68, dismissed his interest for joining the Republican Party, when he showed an electoral video accusing Mitch McConnell, its majority leader, of being a cocaine addict and benefiting himself from the money of the “Chinese family” of his wife, Elaine Chao.

Add to this scenario, Rep. Patrick Little, who previously complained of being expelled from the convention of his party held in San Diego (California) for rejecting to “serve the leadership of Israel.”

Little is self-defined as a “defender of white people”, although his possibilities for success are scarce.

This is a tight synthesis on the world of politics in the United States, country that its propaganda sells as the most democratic country on Earth,

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / CubaSi Translation Staff

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