Day: December 3, 2006

A Lack of Compassion

In the Miami Herald, veteran Cuban-American journalist Bonnie M. Anderson, whose father was tortured and executed by the Cuban Communist regime, considers the week of celebrations of Fidel Castro’s birthday, together with the U.S. media response to it, and wonders why Americans seem to have so little compassion for the pain that Cuban exiles have experienced:

Americans show compassion for cancer survivors, for DUI and rape victims, for people suffering from depression, physical and mental abuse. We show compassion for famine victims in Africa; as an NBC news correspondent, I broke stories about genocide in Ethiopia, and the world — but especially the United States — responded with millions of dollars of money, but most important, with compassion.


The day that Castro’s illness was first reported, I woke up very early and was watching CBS. On their early morning shows, they repeatedly said that ”Castro is considered a ruthless dictator by some in Miami.” I fired off an e-mail to CBS President Sean McManus. What I wrote, in short, was this: If a man who murdered 20,000 people, imprisoned for decades hundreds of thousands of others, caused countless hundreds of thousands to flee the country (many losing their lives in desperate attempts to reach freedom on flimsy rafts) and has repressed a nation for nearly five decades — denying them the most basic of human rights — is not considered a ruthless dictator by all, who the hell is?

I haven’t heard back from him. I don’t expect I will. In fact, I suspect he, and other network executives, will continue to cozy up to the Cuban government (whoever leads it) in order to make sure that when Castro dies, their networks have access to the coverage. That’s the way it is in the corporate news world.

Read it all.

(via Babalu Blog)


NATO and the Energy Weapon

At the NATO summit in Riga last week, Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN), chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, gave a keynote speech in which he called for NATO’s basic role to be updated: it should now, he said, include protection of allied countries’ energy security.

In EDM, Vladimir Socor examines the senator’s proposals:

The NATO Charter’s Article 5 (treating an armed attack on an allied country as an attack against all) is designed to prevent coercion of a member country by a non-member country. That interpretation must apply also to a cutoff of energy supplies and trigger allied measures to supply the threatened country with energy, Lugar urged. For, ultimately, a cutoff in energy supplies is no different from the threat of military attack or a military demonstration against a member country, in that the goal is to force that country to submit to foreign coercion.

Thus, Lugar urged NATO to identify alternatives to existing pipeline routes, with the necessary financial and political support; develop strategies that include the re-supply of a country that is victim of an aggressive energy suspension; establish mechanisms to shift energy supplies and services to a member country under such attack; and ensure that infrastructure is in place to respond to such an attack. A coordinated and well-publicized Alliance response would become a deterrent that could reduce the chances of miscalculation or military conflict. It would also provide a powerful incentive for member countries to remain in the alliance and for prospective members to accelerate reforms necessary to qualify for membership.

While making clear that Russian policies are the main source of such concern, Lugar also advocated establishing regular high-level consultations between Russia and NATO on energy security to deal with Russia’s rising challenge. “Its recent actions to temporarily reduce gas supplies to the West, confiscate some foreign energy investments, and create further barriers to new investments are undermining confidence in Moscow’s reliability.” Consequently, NATO should focus on how it would supply beleaguered member countries with the energy resources needed to withstand geo-strategic blackmail.

Lugar’s initiative reflects the frustration widely felt among European Union and NATO member countries with the EU’s failure to formulate a common energy policy and supply diversification strategy. Given the two organizations’ overlapping membership, NATO could legitimately become a forum for deliberation and decisions on supply assistance to member countries targeted for aggression with the new weapons of energy. Failure by the EU or NATO to devise joint responses to these emergent threats would risk turning the alliance into a hollow shell.

The Russian Threat to Britain

Via the Telegraph:

The Russian intelligence services, the prime suspects behind the murder of Alexander Litvinenko, have a network of more than 30 spies operating in Britain, it can be revealed.

Mario Scaramella’s name was one of five on a supposed “hit-list” of people allegedly targeted for assassination by a shadowy group called Dignity and Honour, run by a Colonel Valentin Velichko.

The sophisticated ring represents the greatest espionage threat facing Britain, Whitehall sources told The Sunday Telegraph.

The agents, equivalent to one in five of the Moscow government officials based in Britain, are known to be monitoring the movements and activities of Russian emigres and opponents of the Putin regime.

But they are also involved in a widespread operation targeting businessmen, MPs and scientists in an attempt to steal commercial and state secrets. Only the United States, it is understood, has more Russian agents operating on its soil.

Whitehall sources claim that the agents are as active today as they were at the height of the Cold War, despite the fact that the Kremlin is now one of Britain’s major allies in the war on terrorism.