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Artie Ayala & Omar "El Bombero" Fernandez
July 22, 2008
Originally built in 1901, this walkway now serves as an aproach to makinodromo, the famous climbing sector of El Chorro. El Chorro is a limestone gorge in Andalusia in southern Spain, through which passes the Guadalhorce river. It was dammed in 1921, forming three reservoirs which are flanked by pine forests.
It sits next to the 700m high Desfiladero de los Gaitanes pass, and is famous for the very dangerous path called Caminito del Rey (King's little path). The path took its name because it was officially opened by Alfonso XIII of Spain. However official access to the path was removed in 2000 after a tourist died trying to cross it.
It was used as a location for train scenes in the 1965 adventure film Von Ryan's Express.
The area is renowned as being one of the best rock climbing areas in Europe, but is also very popular for mountain biking, hiking, and camping.
By the way, for a real cool view... right click on the video and select "Go FullScreen"...Enjoy !
July 20, 2008
Tonight at 6 P.M. EST
Be sure to join us by clicking on the link below !
July 18, 2008
Castro will hand over a ``considerable percentage'' of idle land to farmers to increase food production and reduce imports, according to a decree posted on the Web Site of Cuba's official newspaper Granma today.
The decree is the latest in a series of moves made by Castro since he succeeded his brother, Fidel Castro, as president in February. Since then, he has lifted a ban on mobile phones, allowed locals to stay in hotels and earn wages based on merit, and permitted private taxi drivers to apply for licenses.
``This is the first substantial reform to Cuba's economic model carried out by Raul,'' said Jorge Pinon, a researcher at the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American studies at the University of Miami. ``Everything else was purely cosmetic, geared to the general population so they could have a better standard of living. This is the first real structural change.''
The Cuban government will grant land rights for as much as 10 years for private individuals, renewable for a further 10 years, and as much as 25 years for companies and cooperatives, renewable for 25 years.
Farmers who don't already own land can get as much as 13.4 hectares (33.2 acres), while those who already own land can increase it to 40.3 hectares.
``This is a good thing,'' Pinon said. ``It will help Cuba increase agricultural output, but it could mean a huge boost to the national economy because we estimate the lost revenue in both sugar and ethanol by Cuba is in excess of $2.5 billion.''
Cuba's sugar production has fallen 75 percent to 100,000 metric tons per year since December 2000, according to figures from the United States Department of Agriculture.
``It seems promising, but we'll have to see how aggressive they want to be,'' Pinon said. ``The devil is in the detail. We still have to see the exact legislation with all of its `T's crossed and `I's dotted.''
July 15, 2008
Finally, the interview you have been waiting for will take place this coming weekend. Eduardo Calcines's book will soon be published and we are fortunate enough to get his first live interview via Cubanazos Blog Talk Radio. I recently received a copy of the book in its final stages from Mr Calcines. The book "GloryTown - One Boys Struggle Under Castro" will be released in the early part of 2009. I have been reading the book for the last few days and I expect this book will go on to be a bestseller. Join us for what we expect will be one of the most interesting shows on Cubanazos Blog Talk Radio Show. In the meantime visit his website and read a little about Mr Calcines and his book at www.glorytown.net
The Time & Date Are Now Set For The Show...Sunday at 6 P.M.
Be sure to join us by clicking on the link below !
Many years ago, I watched a father and son at the beach doing what fathers and sons do at the beach and from those moments was inspired following short piece of fiction:
Valentin J. Prieto
Carlitos asked me about Cuba while at the beach the Saturday after I'd taken him to the rally at the Orange Bowl for the downed Brothers to the Rescue pilots. It took me by surprise at first, my four-year old gringito, Cuban only really by name and potaje, asking me where Cuba was. He must have been overwhelmed that day at the rally with all those people waving flags, chanting and crying. But it's funny how things stick to the mind of a child.
I knelt down beside him, dug my knees into the moist sand, and put my hand on his little shoulder. The cool Atlantic softly lapping my toes, each little wave culminating a voyage started who knows where, perhaps even on the island itself, maybe even at the toes of a Cuban father struggling to find answers for his own son. Carlitos threw his arm over mine, placed his hand on the back of my neck and looked me in the eyes with the look that children get when they want to know something. That wide-eyed anticipation they have for your response which they will take as gospel. As if we had all the answers.
"Where is it, Papi? Is it far away?"I forced a smile, "No Carlitos. Not too far." In a way I felt I'd just betrayed his trust in me, lied to him by giving him the easy answer. Geographically Cuba isn't far away. But how do you tell a child that even though a place is physically close it can be intrinsically out of reach? "Do you remember our trip to Disney World?" I asked him; he nodded. "That's how far Cuba is. Más o menos."
"Can we go, Papi?""Ay, Carlitos," I sighed, brushing imaginary sand off his arms because I couldn't look him in the eyes, afraid he'd notice the insecurity in his father, my inability to give him a concrete answer. "Algún dia. Maybe some day you'll see where Papi was born. Where Tata and Abuelo come from."
He took my staring out onto the horizon as a cue and followed it. "Is it that way, Papi?" He raised his arm and pointed his little red plastic shovel out over the vastness before us.
"Si, Carlitos. It's somewhere out there." I tried to change the conversation. "Tienes hambre, mi hijo?"
He shook his head without turning away from the ocean. "I think I can see it, Papi." He peered out over the horizon, his free hand on his forehead like a little sailor, and stood there, tip-toed, looking for Cuba.
The picture before me saddened me. Had I just handed my son the same baton my father had handed me? Had I just made my son an exile in his own country? This is not how I'd wanted my son to grow up, yearning for Cuba.I picked up a flat, rounded stone, blew the sand off and stood next to my boy. "Ven Carlitos, I'm going to show you how to skip stones." He eyed the stone I held in my hand. "First you need to find a good stone," I told him. "Like this one. Flat and round. No un caracol."
He picked one up, rubbed the sand off on his shorts and asked me if it was a good one. I nodded, took a few steps closer to the blue mirror before us. "The trick to skipping stones is to throw side arm," I said, motioning my arm. "What you want to try to do is make the stone bounce as many times as possible." I flung the stone and it bounced a few times in the direction my son had been staring at moments earlier. "You gotta count how many times it hits the water."
"But Papi, I can only count to ten. What if it does it more?"
"Then you have to learn to count higher. Vamos Carlitos, it's your turn."
His first try plopped and sank. I could see the disappointment in his face. "Don't worry," I picked up another stone and plopped it just like his. "It doesn't always work. It takes practice."
We stood there for a while, father and son, skipping and plopping stones into the Atlantic. I was glad that I'd taken his mind off of Cuba because I wasn't sure that if by telling him about the country I would be giving him something or taking something away. Would he carry around his Cubanidad like a badge of honor or would he carry it around like some kind of cancer, causing him the same pain I have? The same pain my father had. Carlitos is Gerber's and Nickelodeon. Osh Kosh and Guess for Kids. Raised with Pampers, not pañales. I'd heard his first words, seen him wobble his first steps, knowing he'd grow up American. Tucked in the security blanket of his freedom. By opening his eyes to Cuba, had I given him his first steps into the same uncertainty of generations before him?
One of his stones finally took a slight bounce on the shiny blue. He jumped and hopped and skipped, cleansed me with his I did its! We high fived.
"Come on, Papi, help me find some more good ones." He began combing the shore for stones with enthusiasm. Some stones he picked up and discarded, the good ones he put in his pockets. When his pockets were full he made a little pile of stones at my feet. Carlitos went up and down the beach as far as I let him and when he figured he had enough stones, his pockets bulging, the pile at my feet now an arsenal and stones falling from his tiny hands, he went into the water ankle deep and started throwing.
"You'll see, Papi. I'm gonna keep trying 'til I skip one all the way to Cuba."
Lucidity from a four year old. Just a stone's throw away.
July 14, 2008
July 12, 2008
Most websites have removed it, including YouTube.
All bowing to threats. Google still has it posted as of today but, will probably bow to pressure soon. It is about 16 minutes long but well worth the time. This is our enemy ..... we better get real serious NOW.
July 10, 2008
Election 2008: What's at Stake?
America Faces a Dangerous, Relentless Enemy in the War Against Islamic Extremists - We face an enemy that has repeatedly attacked us and remains committed to killing Americans and the destruction of our values. This election is about who is best prepared to lead and defend our nation and its global allies as Commander-in-Chief from day one. This election is about making sure we have the experienced leadership to guide us to victory in this war, protect the nation against future terrorist attacks, and support our troops and first responders who are on the frontlines of the war. This election will decide whether we choose to fight or announce surrender. It will decide whether we have a president who dangerously weakens U.S. security or strengthens it; whether we will flinch and retreat or fully engage the enemy on multiple fronts. We need decisive leadership with the vision and experience to guide our country and the world through this challenge. Having a courageous Commander-in-Chief who is willing to lead us in this war, rally our democratic allies and defeat our enemy to secure a broader peace is what's at stake in this election.
Visit the John McCain site today and lend a helping hand... click here !
Representatives of the organizations wrote a letter to Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Miami Mayor Manny Diaz with a call for Obama to get rid of senior foreign policy advisor Greg Craig and vice presidential vetter Eric Holder.
The groups said the men's role in the campaign is a "great offense" to the Cuban American community.
"As you well know, both these men played prominent roles in what we consider a very dark page in the history of the Cuban exile community - the forced return of Elian Gonzalez to the communist island to live in tyranny," the letter states.
Craig represented Elian's father in a battle over custody of the child. Holder was deputy U.S. attorney general when Elian was ordered to return to Cuba.
In 1999, Elian crossed from Cuba to the United States in a small boat, losing his mother during the trip. In 2000, gun-wielding government agents removed Elian from his relatives' Miami home.
Read more in the Swamp about how Elian Gonzalez remains a factor in Florida.
Continue reading for a copy of the letter to Nelson, Menendez and Diaz:
Open Letter to Florida Senator Bill Nelson, New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez and Miami Mayor Manny Díaz
As representatives of Cuban American exile organizations, we reach out to you as our friend and elected representative to bring your attention to a situation that is of profound concern to us. We are deeply troubled by the continued presence of senior adviser Greg Craig and vice presidential screener Eric Holder on Senator Barack Obama's campaign. That one of these men is advising Barack Obama on foreign policy issues and one is helping select his vice presidential running mate is a great offense to the Cuban American community.
As you well know, both these men played prominent roles in what we consider a very dark page in the history of the Cuban exile community - the forced return of Elian Gonzalez to the communist island to live in tyranny.
Just a few days ago, we saw the painful image of a now l4 year old Elian Gonzalez joining Cuba's Communist Youth. It was just eight years ago the same child was forcibly taken from his new home in Miami and sent back to Cuba. While Elian's mother gave her life fleeing Castro's oppressive regime to bring her child to freedom in America, her ultimate sacrifice turned out to be in vain.
Eric Holder defended and played a role in Elian's seizure by the Justice Department, and the unnecessary use of brute force by armed government agents, to send the child back to the country his mother had tried so hard for them to escape from.
Greg Craig is equally, if not more, culpable. Although he might have been officially hired by a church group to represent Elian's father, Greg Craig was actually benefitting Fidel Castro and his regime.
Given the relationship of Greg Craig with the Castro regime and his advisory role with Senator Obama, it is not surprising that Senator Obama would propose meeting without preconditions with Raul Castro, another affront to the Cuban-American community.
What is most concerning is that Holder and Craig remain on Obama's team, even after he was informed of their involvement in the Elian Gonzalez case. It is cause for indignation that these men sit so closely to a presidential contender while our families, friends and neighbors 90 miles to the South are held captive by a tyrannical regime.
Had it not been for the actions of these two men, lending themselves as instruments to Fidel Castro, Elian could today be enjoying the freedom his mother died to provide for him.
You know only too well, how divisive and hurtful the Elian experience was for the Cuban-American community. You also know that it demonstrates a shocking level of political insensitivity towards the Cuban American community for Senator Obama to have these two men play such important roles in his campaign. Taking into consideration Senator Obama's lack of experience and knowledge of foreign policy, particularly as it relates to Latin America and Cuba, the role of advisors becomes that much more important. That those advisors would be of the ilk of Greg Craig and Eric Holder is unacceptable.
We look upon you to speak for us and carry our message. We ask that you condition your support of Senator Obama and any activities on behalf of his campaign on Senator Obama, immediately severing ties with Eric Holder and Greg Craig.
When asked recently whether Elian should have been deported to Cuba, Senator Obama brushed the ordeal off as being in the past, stating "that was eight years ago and obviously it was a wrenching situation for the families involved. But I'm running for president in 2008... " Sadly, Elian Gonzalez is not the past. His mother's sacrifice is not the past. The millions of people who still today live under an oppressive government that daily violates their human rights, is not the past. We fight for Cuba's freedom today and every day. The fight for freedom for the Cuban people is for us the here and now, part of our daily lives.
We ask you to step forward and demonstrate the respect you have always shown us, the respect that Senator Obama has neglected to show our community and the rest of the country. It is our hope that Senator Obama would show you more respect and deference than he has shown our community until now. He would be well served to take your advice and not that of Eric Holder and Greg Craig. It is our sincere hope that you will counsel him to immediately ask for the resignations of Eric Holder and Greg Craig.
Brigada de Asalto 2506
MAR por Cuba
Alfredo García Menocal
Consejo del Presidio Político Cubano
Municipios de Cuba en el Exilio
Dr. Alberto M. Hernández
Consejo por la Libertad de Cuba
Rodolfo S. San Román
Presidio Político Histórico
Casa del Preso
Educator Juan Maria Keyes and Cuban community leader Jose Dolores Poyo were the principle proponents of the Institute. The San Carlos was named after Cuba's Seminario San Carlos, noted for its academic excellence, and in honor of Carlos Manuel de Cespedes, father of Cuba's independence. As cradle of Cuba's independence, the San Carlos is considered a patriotic "shrine" by the Cuban people. The first San Carlos building was a small wooden structure on Anne Street. The Institute moved to a larger building on Fleming Street in 1874 but was burned to the ground in the great fire of 1886 that destroyed much of Key West. Under the leadership of civic leader Martin Herrera, the Cuban community purchased a lot fronting Duval Street and rebuilt its beloved San Carlos right in the heart of Key West.
It was here that Jose Martí, Cuba's legendary poet and patriot, united the exile community and fondly called the San Carlos "La Casa Cuba".
San Carlos' president Dr. Jose Renedo and directors Jose Fernandez and Ramon Perdomo led the efforts to rebuild the institute after the old structure was demolished by the hurricane of 1919. The present building was completed in 1924 and incorporates many elements of Cuban architecture. It was designed by Francisco Centurion, one of Cuba's most prominent architects.
The San Carlos was one of America's first bilingual and integrated schools. For more than a century, children of all races attended school at the San Carlos Institute where classes were taught in English and Spanish. Among the persons who taught at the San Carlos Institute stand such legendary figures as Alejandro Menendez, Jose Abreau, Avelina Rios, Consuelo Mendoza Pineda, Esperansa Varela and Benuildes Ramon Sanchez. The latter served as teacher and principal of the Institute for over twenty-five years.
The school was forced to close in the mid 1970's due to the building's deteriorating condition. Vagrants broke into the building and lived on the premises. Valuable books, paintings and other historical material were lost or damaged during those years. When part of the San Carlos' facade collapsed in 1981, injuring a passing tourist, some called for the building's demolition. Others sought to convert the San Carlos into a commercial theatre.
In 1985 Cuban residents of Key West and Miami brought the imminent threat facing the San Carlos Institute to the attention of Florida's Hispanic Affairs Commission, a volunteer citizens' group headed by Rafael Penalver, a Miami attorney. Saving the San Carlos became Penalver's personal crusade. He led a historic mission as a Cuban heritage center. The restoration was a six year "labor of love" by Penalver and the other members of the restoration board who envisioned the restored San Carlos Institute as a shrine to Cuban heritage. The project cost over $4 million, raised from historic preservation grants from the State of Florida and thousands of private donations. The money was used exclusively for construction costs. Not a penny was used for salaries, administrative costs or travel expenses. Jorge and Margarita Khuly were the restoration's architects. The restored San Carlos Institute is a multi-purpose facility that serves as museum, library, school, art gallery, theatre and conference center. The San Carlos Institute reopened on January 3, 1992, exactly 100 years to the day the Jose Martí first visited the Institute.
The San Carlos Institute is a place of pilgrimage for the Cuban people. Over 5,000 persons attended the reopening ceremonies and thousands more have visited the Institute since. They come to Key West from all over the world to visit the San Carlos and learn more about their Cuban heritage. Indeed, the restored San Carlos Institute is a showcase of Cuban history and architecture that enshrines the ideals and aspirations of the Cuban people.
The San Carlos is open daily except Mondays. Guided tours and film presentations are offered hourly in English and Spanish.
The San Carlos Institute is a non profit 501(c)(3) organization maintained exclusively by private contributions. All donations are tax deductible. Please join in this historic effort. Support the San Carlos Institute. For additional information, please call (305) 294-3887.
I noticed there were several people looking for the article posted on the original Cubanazos.com so here it is again.
A man of medium height, thin, with scruffy and abundant hair and beard, dressed with a black cape despite the strong Caribbean sun, was a very popular street character in Havana in the 1950’s. He was a kind man that could appear on any corner of the city, although he visited some places regularly. He walked the streets and traveled by bus greeting everybody and discussing life’s philosophy, religion, politics, etc. Many people remember him as a cultured and well educated speaker.
He neither cursed nor ever asked for charities. He only accepted money from persons he knew, and gave them in return a “gift”, of a colored card made by himself or of a pencil wrapped with threads of different colors. The legendary Gentleman that traveled the streets of Havana in the past was originally from Spain and his true name was José María López Lledín. It is said he belonged to a lineage of a family in Lugo, Spain.
The Gentleman came to Havana when he was very young; he suffered from psychological disorders after facing legal problems, which put him in jail at the end of the 1940’s. He was the source of inspiration of artists, musicians, directors, and even his own doctor; Luis Calzadilla wrote a book recollecting his experiences with the Gentleman of Havana. In music he was immortalized with a danzón.
The great voice of danzón in Cuba, Barbarito Diez, has repeated these lyrics so many times: "Mira quién viene por ahí, el Caballero de París". (See, who’s coming, the Gentleman from Paris) In 1977 the authorities decided to take him under protective custody considering his deteriorated physical and mental condition. He was hospitalized in the Psychiatric Hospital of Havana.
There, he received the care of doctors and nurses who understood the significance of such an illustrious guest; he finally passed away in that institution at the age of 85 in 1985. The historian of the city, Phd. Eusebio Leal Spengler, had his exhumed remains placed in the Convent of Saint Francis of Assisi, an outstanding example of colonial architecture in the Historical Centre of Havana. A bronze statue, life sized, depicts him the way he was.
It was created by the sculptor José Villa Soberón, also at the initiative of Phd. Leal Spengler, it was placed afterwards in one of the halls of the convent. There, we are reminded forever of the life and times of this great walker and preacher who was an active part of the social and cultural life of Havana.
Thomas Sowell was born in North Carolina and grew up in Harlem. As with many others in his neighborhood, he left home early and did not finish high school. The next few years were difficult ones, but eventually he joined the Marine Corps and became a photographer in the Korean War. After leaving the service, Sowell entered Harvard University , worked a part-time job as a photographer and studied the science that would become his passion and profession: economics.
After graduating magna cum laude from Harvard University (1958), he went on to receive his master's in economics from Columbia University (1959) and a doctorate in economics from the University of Chicago (1968).
In the early '60s, Sowell held jobs as an economist with the Department of Labor and AT&T, but his real interest was in teaching and scholarship. In 1965, at Cornell University , he began the first of many professorships. His other teaching assignments include Rutgers University, Amherst University, Brandeis University, and the University of California at Los Angeles, where he taught in the early '70s and also from 1984 to 1989.
Sowell has published a large volume of writing. His dozen books, as well as numerous articles and essays, cover a wide range of topics, from classic economic theory to judicial activism, from civil rights to choosing the right college. Moreover, much of his writing is considered ground-breaking -- work that will outlive the great majority of scholarship done today.
Though Sowell had been a regular contributor to newspapers in the late '70s and early '80s, he did not begin his career as a newspaper columnist until 1984. George F. Will's writing, says Sowell, proved to him that someone could say something of substance in so short a space (750 words). And besides, writing for the general public enables him to address the heart of issues without the smoke and mirrors that so often accompany academic writing.
In 1990, he won the prestigious Francis Boyer Award, presented by The American Enterprise Institute.
Currently Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute in Stanford , Calif.
Obama and McCain
by Thomas Sowell
Thursday, June 05, 2008
Now that the two parties have finally selected their presidential candidates, it is time for a sober-- if not grim-- assessment of where we are. Not since 1972 have we been presented with two such painfully inadequate candidates. When election day came that year, I could not bring myself to vote for either George McGovern or Richard Nixon. I stayed home.
This year, none of us has that luxury. While all sorts of gushing is going on in the media, and posturing is going on in politics, the biggest national sponsor of terrorism in the world-- Iran-- is moving step by step toward building a nuclear bomb.
The point when they get that bomb will be the point of no return. Iran 's nuclear bomb will be the terrorists' nuclear bomb-- and they can make 9/11 look like child's play.
All the options that are on the table right now will be swept off the table forever. Our choices will be to give in to whatever the terrorists demand-- however outrageous those demands might be-- or to risk seeing American cities start disappearing in radioactive mushroom clouds.
All the things we are preoccupied with today, from the price of gasoline to health care to global warming, will suddenly no longer matter.
Just as the Nazis did not find it enough to simply kill people in their concentration camps, but had to humiliate and dehumanize them first, so we can expect terrorists with nuclear weapons to both humiliate us and force us to humiliate ourselves, before they finally start killing us.
They have already telegraphed their punches with their sadistic beheadings of innocent civilians, and with the popularity of videotapes of those beheadings in the Middle East .
They have already telegraphed their intention to dictate to us with such things as Osama bin Laden's threats to target those places in America that did not vote the way he prescribed in the 2004 elections. He could not back up those threats then but he may be able to in a very few years.
The terrorists have given us as clear a picture of what they are all about as Adolf Hitler and the Nazis did during the 1930s-- and our 'leaders' and intelligentsia have ignored the warning signs as resolutely as the 'leaders' and intelligentsia of the 1930s downplayed the dangers of Hitler.
We are much like people drifting down the Niagara River, oblivious to the waterfalls up ahead. Once we go over those falls, we cannot come back up again.
What does this have to do with today's presidential candidates? It has everything to do with them.
One of these candidates will determine what we are going to do to stop Iran from going nuclear-- or whether we are going to do anything other than talk, as Western leaders talked in the 1930s.
There is one big difference between now and the 1930s. Although the West's lack of military preparedness and its political irresolution led to three solid years of devastating losses to Nazi Germany and imperial Japan , nevertheless when all the West's industrial and military forces were finally mobilized, the democracies were able to turn the tide and win decisively.
But you cannot lose a nuclear war for three years and then come back. You cannot even sustain the will to resist for three years when you are first broken down morally by threats and then devastated by nuclear bombs.
Our one window of opportunity to prevent this will occur within the term of whoever becomes President of the United States next January.
At a time like this, we do not have the luxury of waiting for our ideal candidate or of indulging our emotions by voting for some third party candidate to show our displeasure-- at the cost of putting someone in the White House who is not up to the job.
Senator John McCain has been criticized in this column many times, but when all is said and done, Senator McCain has not spent decades aiding and abetting people who hate America.
On the contrary, he has paid a huge price for resisting our enemies, even when they held him prisoner and tortured him. The choice between him and Barack Obama should be a no-brainer.
July 4, 2008
July 3, 2008
Above everything else that's sent to the troops in the middle east, the thing they like receiving the most is letters of support. Why not send one today ?
LettersToSoldiers.org is a volunteer crew sending letters, care packages and support to our troops in Iraq.
Their site allows you to send a letter to a soldier in Iraq.
Take a few minutes and send a message to a soldier in Iraq.
Click to hear... "Love Will Prevail" - by Angela WinstonMP3 - 3.4 MB
From the album - United We Stand
Thank A Soldier !
Visit "The Gratitude Campaign" site and watch a short movie.
The original Obama plan, still on his website, promises: “Obama will immediately begin to remove our troops from Iraq. He will remove one to two combat brigades each month and have all of our combat brigades out of Iraq within 16 months.”In a separate six-page Iraq plan, he says in a section headed “All Combat Troops Redeployed by 2009”: “The best way to protect our security and to pressure Iraq's leaders to resolve their civil war is to begin immediately to remove our combat troops. Not in six months or one year — now.” David Axelrod, Obama’s chief strategist, began backing off during remarks Wednesday on CNN’s “Situation Room,” telling guest host John Roberts that Obama has actually advocated “a phased withdrawal, with benchmarks for the Iraqi government to meet, that called for strategic pauses, based on the progress on these benchmarks and advice on the commanders on the ground.” “He's always said that he would listen to the advice of commanders on the ground, that that would factor into his thinking,” Axelrod said. “He's also always said that we had to be as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in. So he's been very consistent on this point. .... “I think he will take the advice, not just the advice of the commanders on the ground but his general assessment of conditions on the ground in calibrating that withdrawal. He said he thought we could get one to two brigades out a month. But he's not wedded to that in the face of events. No president would be. And he's always said that he's never said that this withdrawal would be without any possibility of alteration based on events on the ground. That would not be a prudent thing to do for any president.”
The Republican National Committee plans to make an issue of the evolving statements and has posted “Obama’s Iraq Guessing Game,” rounding up various statements on Iraq by the senator, his aides and surrogates.
July 2, 2008
Lawyers for the companies argued the measure seeks to pre-empt federal law and could put the agencies out of business. The law, which was set to take effect Tuesday, would force agencies to put up a $250,000 state bond if they book tours to Cuba. Other travel agencies would only pay $25,000. "This law does nothing to help the consumer or the state," the companies' attorney Steven Weinger said. "These are business people whose livelihoods are threatened because of the onerous bond conditions." Weinger said the law also harms the companies because they would have to disclose whom they do business with and their trade secrets. The Florida law also carries criminal penalties and fines of up to $10,000 for violations of federal law but does not specify the violations. Republican State Representative David Rivera, who has championed the U.S. government's hard line against Cuba, sponsored the measure. He said he hopes it will cut down on travel fraud, provide greater homeland security and deny resources to the Cuban government.
During Tuesday's hearing, Weinger told the judge that 60 people were waiting at Jose Marti International Airport in Havana, afraid to fly home because they were unsure whether they would be prosecuted under the new state law. Erik Miller, an attorney for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, said the law would not be applied to the passengers, and that they had nothing to worry about. Miller noted the law was passed by a majority of the legislature called it a legitimate use of state authority. "It does not invade the province of federal statutes. There's not interference with foreign affairs. It only regulates in-state transactions," he said. "There is no intent to put anyone out of business."
The next hearing in the case was scheduled for July 11.