Neil Cavuto claims Fox News is covering teabaggers in same fair and balanced way it covered the Million Man March in 1995 -- except Fox News didn't exist yet in 1995.[...]
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From the White House Press Office, GREAT NEWS!
President Obama, Vice President Biden, Transportation Secretary LaHood
Announce 2,000th Transportation Project Under Economic Recovery Act
Washington, DC - President Barack Obama today announced funding for the 2,000th transportation project under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), only six weeks after approving the first project. The President made the remarks at the U.S. Department of Transportation with Vice President Biden and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
“Just 41 days ago we announced funding for the first transportation project under ARRA and today we’re approving the 2,000th project,” said President Obama. “I am proud to utter the two rarest phrases in the English language – projects are being approved ahead of schedule, and they are coming in under budget.”
"The Recovery Act is being implemented with speed, transparency and accountability,” said Vice President Biden. “Don't take my word for it – just look at what's happening today. We have the 2000th transportation project now underway – that's going to help create jobs, make it easier for folks to get to the jobs they have, and improve our nation's infrastructure all at the same time. The Recovery Act is full- steam ahead on helping us build an economy for the 21st century."
“This is the government working for the people, creating jobs today and laying the foundation for a bright economic future,” said Secretary LaHood.
The 2,000th project is in Kalamazoo County, Michigan. The $68 million project involves widening of I-94 from two lanes both east and westbound to three lanes in each direction. The project will improve safety and ease congestion by providing a more efficient interchange.
State departments of transportation around the country have reported to FHWA intense competition by contractors for ARRA projects. Bids have been roughly 15 to 20 percent lower on average, and as much as 30 percent lower in some cases, than engineers anticipated. For example, in Colorado, the state’s first five ARRA transportation projects announced on April 2 were 12 percent lower than anticipated. In Maine, one bridge project was 20 percent lower than estimated. In Oregon, during February and March 2009, bids have averaged 30 percent lower than expected.
President Obama secured passage of the ARRA and signed it into law on February 17, less than one month after taking office. Less than two weeks later, on March 3, the President, Vice President Biden and Secretary LaHood released the first funding to the states and localities for highways, roads and bridge projects. That release of funds came eight days earlier than required by law.
ARRA provides a total of $48.1 billion for transportation infrastructure projects to be administered by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Of that $27.5 billion is for highways and bridges, $8.4 billion is for transit, $8 billion is for high speed rail, $1.3 billion is for Amtrak, $1.5 billion is for discretionary infrastructure grants $1.3 billion is for airports and Federal Aviation Administration facilities and equipment and $100 million for shipyards.
In early February, prior to the passage of the ARRA, Secretary LaHood established within the U.S. Department of Transportation the TIGER (Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery) team to ensure that economic recovery dollars for transportation infrastructure projects is rapidly made available and that project spending is monitored and transparent. On March 3, the President unveiled a TIGER logo, as well as an ARRA logo, that will be placed on construction signs across the country, to mark projects being built and jobs created with Recovery Act funds.
Due to heightened competition among contractors for recovery construction work, Transportation agencies across the nation are receiving project bids substantially lower than engineers’ initial estimates. These lower than expected bids are allowing states to stretch economic recovery funds to pay for additional projects, which the Department of Transportation predicts will create even more jobs and yield further infrastructure repair nationwide. Below is a sampling of state transportation projects set to break ground across the country at a fraction of initial estimates.
“At Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport, a recent project to reconstruct the area around Piers C and D received six bids instead of the usual two or three. The result: The estimated $50 million project will be built for $8 million less than was budgeted, and the savings will be allocated to other projects. There were 21 bidders for a $200,000 drainage project in Carroll County, more than anyone could remember.” [Washington Post, 4/8/09]
“In Connecticut, a project on the Merritt Parkway was budgeted at $75 million. The final bid amount: $66.6 million. In North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, bids are coming in 19 percent, 15 percent and 10 percent lower, respectively, according to data provided by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.” [Washington Post, 4/8/09]
“Pennsylvania officials said contractors competing for their first round of road and bridge projects had offered bids 15 percent lower than the state had expected. Utah officials said some of their bids were coming in 25 percent lower than expected. And a bid to build a 4.7-mile extension of Interstate 49 from Shreveport, La., toward the Arkansas state line came in at $31.1 million, about $4.7 million less than the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development had estimated the project would cost.” [New York Times, 3/28/09]
“From major highway construction to small sidewalk improvements, bids are sometimes close to half as much as public works officials had projected… When the Santa Clara County Roads & Airports Department recently sought a contractor to do bicycle and pedestrian improvements along three streets, it expected the cost to be about $975,000. The winning offering was just $543,533…On the carpool lane project on Interstate 680 from Fremont to Milpitas, the three contracts awarded last month totaled about $88 million — compared with the $136 million Caltrans anticipated.” [San Jose Mercury News, 3/30/09]
“On April 2, the Colorado Department of Transportation opened bids for five road projects worth nearly $15 million — the first ones bid as part of Colorado’s share of the federal stimulus package… Contractors hungry for work — any kind of work — offered bids that were under what CDOT’s engineers thought the work might cost, meaning the extra money can be poured back into the pot for use later, CDOT officials said. The low bids undercut the agency’s estimates by up to 30 percent.” [Denver Business Journal, 4/10/09]
I brought up this issue last month, and Digby and Greenwald revisit it, in the context of the Bagram detainee facility - the question of what does Marty Lederman, now in the Obama Office of Legal Counsel, think about the arguments being made by the Obama Justice Department. On Bagram, Lederman wrote in the past:
Would habeas rights extend to alien detainees held in foreign locations other than GTMO? That is to say, can the military avoid the impact of Boumediene simply by detaining or transferring all alleged alien enemy combatants to a different facility, such as at Bagram?
Short answer: No. . . .
MORE . . .
Most importantly, the Court strongly implies that if, as in this case, the government chooses a foreign detention facility for the very purpose of avoiding judicial review (or perhaps even if the military retains a prisoner at a battlefield locale for the same reason), the Court will not look kindly upon such efforts. As I noted below, I believe the single most important sentence in the opinion might be this one: "The test for determining the scope of [the Suspension Clause] must not be subject to manipulation by those whose power it is designed to restrain." The political branches will not be permitted "to govern without legal constraint" or to "have the power to switch the Constitution on or off at will" . . . .
Answering the same question, the Obama Justice Department said YES (PDF), the government CAN "choose a foreign detention facility for the very purpose of avoiding judicial review." I quote from the Justice Department brief:
Boumediene . . . rested significantly on the Supreme Courts finding that the United States exercises de facto sovereignty over Guantanamo Bay and its conclusion that [i]n every practical sense Guantanamo is not abroad. See Boumediene, 128 S. Ct. at 2258-59, 2261. Bagram, in contrast, is in a theater of war on a foreign territory over which the United States has neither de jure nor de facto sovereignty and at which the United States is answerable to the host nation for its acts.
(Emphasis supplied.) To be sure, the Justice Department perfunctorily argued:
There is no allegation here that, prior to their detention, the petitioners were apprehended or held in a location where judicial review by an Article III court would have been available. These cases therefore do not raise the prospect that the political branches have sought to switch the Constitution on or off at will by manipulating petitioners place of detention. Boumediene, 128 S. Ct. at 2259.
(Emphasis supplied.) There actually are such allegations that the detention location was predicated on avoiding granting habeas rights. And that allegation is best heard in an Article III court.
Moreover, this avoids the central question - to wit, whether the captures occurred in a "theater of war." The Justice Department brief argues:
[T]his Court relied on the Supreme Courts separation-of-powers discussion in Boumediene in emphasizing for jurisdictional purposes the significance of the site of apprehension. Boumediene, 128 S. Ct. at 2259. A substantial difference in opinion exists regarding whether, under Boumediene, the place of capture has any import where the petitioner was not apprehended on U.S. soil.
I want to make it clear that I do not find the arguments raised in the Justice Department brief unreasonable or beyond the pale. I do think they are wrong as a question of constitutional law.
More importantly to me, they run counter to what I would like to see from the Obama Justice Department, as a matter of policy, and run counter to what we heard from President Obama. Attorney General Holder and Obama OLC attorney Marty Lederman when they discussed these same issues with regard to Bush Justice Department policy.
So, I ask again, what would Marty Lederman do?
Speaking for me only
\According to a tweet from Lawrence Journal-World reporter Scott Rothschild, Governor Kathleen[...]
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A female relative of Bernard Madoff -- identified by the New York Post as Madoff's niece, Shana Madoff -- called a "federal prison consultant" to ask how much jail time she might be facing, the consultant told TPMmuckraker.
Larry Levine -- a former federal prisoner who now runs a company, Wall Street Prison Consultants, that gives advice to future inmates on how to survive prison time and win an early release -- said that a woman had called him about three weeks ago, saying that she might face conspiracy charges. At first, said Levine, the woman was hesitant to divulge any specific information, but, when pressed by Levine, said that she was a relative of Bernard Madoff, explained the basics of her situation, and asked how much jail time she might be facing. "No money changed hands," said Levine, describing the call as "exploratory".
Levine said he hadn't heard back from the caller since then, but that "it was probably Shana." The Post reported this morning, citing an anonymous source, that Shana Madoff had contacted Levine "because she was concerned about her safety" should she go to jail.
Shana Madoff, who is married to a former SEC enforcement official, worked as a compliance officer with Madoff's firm.
According to the Post, Levine "is still on federal supervised release after serving 10 years behind bars for counterfeiting securities." FedTime 101, his introductory class, teaches enrollees about "The Daily Prison Grind", "Your 1st Day What To Bring With, "Why Staff Lie & Dislike Inmates," and "How To Survive A Prison Riot," among other subjects.
The financial crisis has clearly meant boom times for Levine. He told us he has more messages than he can get to from prospective clients, and is appearing on Fox later today, after already being interviewed by CNN.
TPM Reader JH follows up on the Gates' new Pentagon budget and all the squawking from Republicans:Keep up the good work! You are doing great work addressing concern about the non-existent DOD budget cuts as well as Republican double talk on the[...]
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Now here's a shocker: Tara Wall of the Washington Times -- owned and operated by the world's most powerful theocrat, the Rev. Sun Myung Moon -- thinks America is a "Christian nation."
Wall's appearance today on CNN's Reliable Sources was briefly countered by both Howard Kurtz and David Corn:
KURTZ: Tara, why are some pundits on your side of the spectrum saying that perhaps Obama doesn't believe in a Christian nation, when he was clearly just saying that America is a pluralistic society?
WALL: Well, you know, his idea to forge ahead on this idea of religious neutrality, he essentially threw Christianity under the bus the same way he did Reverend Wright. I mean...
KURTZ: Threw Christianity under the bus? Where is that...
WALL: Well, listen, the point is the history -- let's revisit our history here. This one dollar bill, all of our dollar bills say "In God We Trust." We are a country -- wait. We are...
KURTZ: It doesn't say, 'In Christianity We Trust.'
WALL: We are a country based on Judeo-Christian values. Our laws are inscribed based on Judeo-Christian values -- our Constitution.
CORN: You can go back and look at Thomas Jefferson.
WALL: And the point is, at the same time -- listen, because we are a Christian nation, we welcome all religions. We are a free country; we welcome individuality.
KURTZ: Let's let David in here.
WALL: These are things that he can certainly communicate in communicating his message of religious neutrality without essentially saying we are not a Christian nation. That's completely false.
CORN: I know this is a media show, not a religious show, but this debate comes up again and again, whether we are or are not a Christian nation. It's not in the Constitution. You can go back and look at some of our founders, including Thomas Jefferson...
WALL: I have.
CORN: ... and he doesn't call us a Christian nation. In fact, his relationship to God is kind of on the iffy side, let alone his relationship, if he had one, with Jesus Christ. And so, you know, here you have these people on the right, Lars Larson, Sean Hannity, again and again focusing, oddly enough, on the Christian end of the remark. You know, they cut off his quote when he said we are not a Christian nation.
WALL: Because he says we are not a Christian nation. And that's false.
CORN: He says we're not a Jewish nation and we're not a Muslim nation.
WALL: But we are a nation...
CORN: We have no official religion in this nation.
WALL: We are a nation based on Judeo-Christian values, and there is nothing wrong with asserting that notion while, at the same time, embracing all religions as we do. And why people come here to flee religious persecution, because we are based on...
But what's perhaps most amusing about Wall's appearance was watching her head explode at the thought that none of these crazy right-wing memes making Obama out to be a radical trying to destroy America are sinking in with the American public -- voiced by Chrystia Freeland, of the Financial Times:
KURTZ: Chrystia, what about the -- hold on now. What about the business about, did Obama appeared to bow to the Saudi king, and was that a terrible thing, that it also seemed to be -- factor into some of this criticism?
FREELAND: Yes. No, definitely. And I think, again there, as it happened, one of the things that I, not being American, find most attractive about the United States is that this is a country based on opposition to the monarchical principle. So I think American leaders in general should not be bowing to monarchs.
But having said that, again, what I thought was interesting was that was very much a right-wing fringe criticism. And I think one of the things that we're seeing right now in terms of the polarization...
KURTZ: I've got to move on.
FREELAND: ... of the American debate is the right -- really grasping at these straws that are not overall being picked up by the American people.
On Wednesday afternoon author Reese Erlich (Dateline Havana) will be live-blogging at Firedoglake about his new book and about the blowback from Cuba-American affairs on domestic U.S. politics. There's a real battle brewing right now between the American people and entrenched, big money right-wing agendas. I hope you'll remember to wander over to FDL at 4pm (PT) for what's going to be a fascinating chat.
When asked recently by Latin American reporters, Vice President Joseph Biden said the U.S. would not lift its embargo against Cuba. He and President Obama want the Cuban people to ?live in freedom.? But what exactly does that mean? Foreign correspondent Reese Erlich looks at that issue in this excerpt and update from his book Dateline Havana: The Real Story of U.S. Policy and the Future of Cuba, Polipoint Press, Sausalito, CA, 2009. For more info see www.reeseerlich.com.
Since 1991 the U.S. government has fostered numerous university and think tank projects aimed at planning Cuba?s imminent transition from communism to democracy. Beneath the rhetoric about self determination and respecting the rights of Cubans on the island, they describe means by which the U.S. can once again reassert control of Cuba. In 2004 the Bush Administration?s Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba issued an elaborate report.
The U.S. would assist in developing the police and security services, building roads, bridges, and airports. Of course, the report assumed Cubans will welcome capitalism and U.S. foreign investment. The new Cuba would sign a U.S.-Cuba free trade pact, and join the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. ?The U.S. Government and the IFIs [international financial institutions] should be prepared to assist a free Cuba in developing a new investment regime that fosters foreign investment and investor confidence, consistent with appropriate free market mechanisms?.? Cuba would have to settle outside claims ?as expeditiously as possible,? according to the report. Thus Cuban Americans who say their property was nationalized would either get the property back or potentially receive hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation.
According to these reports, if Cuba follows such pro-U.S. policies, its people would finally breathe the free air of democracy and eat the golden fruits of capitalism. Let?s sketch out a more realistic transition plan based on the actual historical experience in Cuba and the former eastern bloc.
Cuba?s government implodes
Let?s say a economic crisis hits Cuba, and the Cuban government makes a series of serious political blunders. Cubans start fleeing to Florida by boat and raft. Angry Cubans demonstrate in the streets of Havana. Without either of the Castro brothers as leaders, the Communist Party splits. Some leaders take up the banner of democracy while others try a military crackdown. The situation worsens. The old power crumbles and new leaders come to power, much as happened in the Soviet Union at the end of 1991. Cuban exiles from Miami hop the first planes to Havana, promising freedom, democracy and an end to economic injustice. At least initially, people welcome the exiles and hope the new system will meet their needs.
But very quickly a number of unforeseen elements of democracy emerge. The new government won?t actually hold elections until political parties are organized and election mechanisms are in place. And they can?t do that until the state controlled media are privatized and the Communist Party institutions dismantled. The U.S., through its Miami surrogates, will make sure the pro-U.S. parties are well funded and receive overwhelming media coverage. If Cubans opposed to the new system hold demonstrations, let alone take up arms, the new democratic regime would be forced to suppress them. The pro-U.S. political parties form militias to protect their interests, as they did before 1959. The U.S. sends in armed private contractors, military advisors and/or troops depending on the need. The new government won?t hold elections until the turmoil subsides.
Even U.S. diplomats concede that the Cuban Communist Party has considerable popular support. Cuban communists, unlike many of their brethren in the eastern bloc, retain an ideological commitment to Marxism and an ability to mobilize ordinary people. The Cuban Army will certainly have set aside caches of weapons to wage guerrilla war. But even if armed insurrection and mass upheaval don?t occur, the new regime will face massive problems.
Until now, Cuba has escaped the scourge of heroin and cocaine that has spread through Latin America. The Cuban government has adopted very tough policies to keep out the international drug cartels. But Cuba occupies a perfect geographic location to become a transport hub for drug lords, not to mention a lucrative new market. The Miami Cubans won?t be the only ones on the first planes to Havana. Mexican, Colombian and other drug lords will send kilos and cash. The old, New York-based mafia will also seek to return to operate drug, gambling, and prostitution rings. But they?ve been out of touch for 50 years, so the drug lords of Colombia and Mexico have a natural advantage. A few violent gang wars should sort everything out. It took 10 years of horrific clashes in Russia in the 1990s, but eventually a few strong gangs emerged triumphant.
But won?t the new democrats and the U.S. drug enforcement officials stop the mafia? The U.S. has conflicting interests on this issue. The drug trade is the perfect source of cash for pro-U.S. political parties and their armed militias. Sectors of the Miami elite already have lots of experience working with drug lords. In general, the U.S. would not like to see drug lords achieve new markets and share political power. But if the drug lords help pro-U.S. political parties, they become a tolerated evil. That?s how the United States operated in the Batista days when some of his cabinet members were directly involved in cocaine smuggling. And this is not just ancient history. The U.S. immediately started cooperating with drug-running cabinet members in the Hamid Karzai government in Afghanistan after the U.S. invasion of 2001.
The newly democratized and privatized Cuba would also face tough choices about how to handle the country?s extensive social services. The Cuban government currently puts major efforts into educating doctors. They learn not only medical skills but are inculcated with a spirit of helping ordinary people. After graduation they serve two years in underserved communities. Government run hospitals and clinics provide the only new jobs in the medical field. Cuba?s medical infrastructure does need improvement. The U.S. embargo and Cuban government mistakes have degraded parts of the system. The country needs new equipment and new buildings. After the collapse of socialism, U.S. hospital chains could set up branches in Cuba with modern equipment. They would also attract the best doctors by offering better salaries.
Some Cuban doctors would open lucrative private practices. The government could continue to fund public hospitals, but how long would it take for the best doctors to migrate to the private sector, leaving the poor with second class care? And how long would it take for the cash-starved government to slash the health care costs to balance the budget? Good quality, free health care would become a distant memory. We don?t have to speculate on this scenario. Russia?s health care system went into cardiac arrest after Boris Yeltsin seized power in 1991. Partly as a result of poor medical care, life expectancy in Russia has actually declined since the early 1990s.
Black Cubans would suffer the most in this transition. The new, all-white elite from Miami would have little concern for them. Without health care, education, transport and other subsidized programs, black Cubans? economic conditions would plummet far faster than whites.
Even if you don?t believe everything that I?ve sketched above, many Cubans do. The prospect of a pro-U.S. Miami elite running Cuba terrifies them.
The Future of US-Cuban relations starts in Washington
The decision to alter U.S.-Cuban relations will depend on developments in Washington, not Havana. Future administrations could decide that the changes in Cuba are significant and therefore initiate negotiations. They would certainly be opposed by the Cuba Lobby and entrenched anti-communists in the State Department and security agencies. On the other hand, a growing number of elected politicians, business people and grass-roots activists favor opening up relations with Cuba. The question is: will opponents of U.S. policy be able to reach a critical mass?
To some extent, the Cuba debate cuts across traditional political party lines. In recent years conservative Republicans and moderate Democrats have joined together to maintain the status quo on Cuba. A strong majority of Republicans and Democrats voted for both the 1994 Torricelli and 1996 Helms-Burton laws. George Bush Jr. tightened the embargo once again in 2004 with bipartisan support from such politicians as senators John McCain and Hilary Clinton.
When President Bill Clinton was in office, many progressives hoped he would lift parts of the U.S. embargo during his second term when he no longer faced political pressure to get elected. He informally loosened the embargo by not pursuing civil fines against Americans traveling to Cuba. He also allowed Cuban musicians and artists to perform in the U.S. But otherwise, he continued the same stringent policies against Cuba as previous administrations. During her 2008 campaign for president, Sen. Hillary Clinton took a strident, hard-line against Cuba. She courted the Miami ultra-conservative vote by saying she would keep Bush?s 2004 restrictions in place. Her position on Cuba was identical to that of Sen. John McCain.
Senator Barack Obama differed with Bush on some Cuba policies. He opposed the 2004 restrictions, reflecting the views of many Cuban-American Democrats in Florida. He voted against funding TV-Marti, saying it was a waste of taxpayer money. Sen. Hilary Clinton voted in favor of that bill. But Obama?s differences were incremental. He campaigned in Miami using strident, anti-communist rhetoric. ?Throughout my entire life, there has been injustice in Cuba. Never, in my lifetime, have the people of Cuba known freedom. ? This is the terrible and tragic status quo that we have known for half a century-- of elections that are anything but free or fair; of dissidents locked away in dark prison cells for the crime of speaking the truth. I won't stand for this injustice, you won't stand for this injustice, and together we will stand up for freedom in Cuba.?
Ironically, some conservative Republican leaders-- not running for national office-- sounded more conciliatory. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, a conservative Republican from Texas, said, ?I have believed for a while that we should be looking at a new strategy for Cuba and that is opening more trade, especially food trade, especially if we can give the people more contact with the outside world, if we can build up an economy that might make the people more able to fight the dictatorship. I think that's something that we should have considered a while back, honestly.? Hutchison reflected the views of many politicians from farm states. Agribusiness could be making a lot more profits if the U.S. lifted the trade embargo.
Given the dynamics of Washington, it seems unlikely that any president will take the lead in changing Cuba policy. Pressure to change will have to percolate up from the grassroots to the House, Senate, and eventually to the White House.
Pressure to change policy
In September 2003 the House of Representatives voted 227-188 to eliminate the ban on Americans traveling to Cuba, and a month later the Senate voted to lift the ban by 59-38. Those majorities consisted of farm state legislators, liberals and libertarian-minded Republicans who opposed unilateral sanctions. Under the threat of a veto by President Bush, however, Congress dropped the bill. Strong critics of U.S. policy included progressives such as Rep. Barbara Lee (D-California) and Rep. Charles Rangel (D-New York) but also conservatives such as Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Florida) and Sen. Pat Roberts (R?Kansas).
Philip Peters, a former State Department official and now a fellow at Washington?s Lexington Institute, told me House Republicans play a crucial role on any Cuba vote. He divided them into three categories. ?About a third vote in favor of lifting sanctions. A third is genuinely opposed to it. And another third vote to maintain the sanctions, although their real opinion is opposed. These are the same legislators who favor trade with China and ? Vietnam.?
That one third and their Democratic counterparts are subject to tremendous lobbying. For example, the U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC, funded by wealthy Cuban Americans from Dade County, Florida, contributed $446,500 to Congress members in 2006-07, including a minimum of $1000 to every 2006 freshman representative. Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Montana) had supported loosening the embargo in order to help agricultural exports from his state. But he switched sides and received $10,500 in campaign contributions from the PAC.
But such groups are increasingly out of touch with the Cuban American community. According to a respected public opinion poll, 55 percent of Cubans living in Miami now oppose the U.S. embargo. Even some hard-line anti communist groups have admitted the embargo?s failure.
For the U.S. to change course on Cuba, several factors would have to come together. Washington leaders would have to perceive Raul Castro?s economic reforms as significant. U.S. business interests would need to pressure Congress and the president to lift the embargo. And the Cuba Lobby would have to face some political setbacks. Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, former top aide to Colin Powell, said Cuban Americans are starting to break with hard-line, anti-Cuba policies. ?Ultimately that?s the straw that will break the camel?s back. But it will take time. Once we get Cuban-Americans feeling differently about Cuba, we will get a sea change. Let?s face it, we have a stupid policy towards Havana.?
And if the U.S. doesn?t change policy, attorney and lobbyist Robert Muse told me, Cuba can afford to wait. ?We?re isolated on Cuba. Cuba needs a rapprochement with U.S. far less than it did 15 years ago.? Thumbing its nose at the U.S., he said, ?gives Cuba stature in the world.?
So the ball is in the U.S. court. The question remains whether U.S. leaders are willing to play.
Today, the Obama administration announced a series of changes in U.S. policy to reach out to the Cuban people in support of their desire to freely determine their country?s future. In taking these steps to help bridge the gap among divided Cuban families and promote the freer flow of information and humanitarian items to the Cuban people, President Obama is working to fulfill the goals he identified both during his presidential campaign and since taking office.
Specifically, the President has directed the Secretaries of State, Treasury, and Commerce to take the needed steps to:
· Lift all restrictions on transactions related to the travel of family members to Cuba.
· Remove restrictions on remittances to family members in Cuba.
· Authorize U.S. telecommunications network providers to enter into agreements to establish fiber-optic cable and satellite telecommunications facilities linking the United States and Cuba.
· License U.S. telecommunications service providers to enter into roaming service agreements with Cuba?s telecommunications service providers.
· License U.S. satellite radio and satellite television service providers to engage in transactions necessary to provide services to customers in Cuba.
· License persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction to activate and pay U.S. and third-country service providers for telecommunications, satellite radio and satellite television services provided to individuals in Cuba.
· Authorize the donation of certain consumer telecommunication devices without a license.
· Add certain humanitarian items to the list of items eligible for export through licensing exceptions.
Dan Drezner offers a fun twist on the "Top 10 Most Important Books in International Relations" genre and looks at the Top 10 Most Important and Wrong or Bad Books in International Relations. Norman Angell leads the list for arguing that trade would end[...]
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