Saturday, April 4, 2020

52 years ago Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated at 6:01pm in Memphis, Tennessee

"If any of you are around when I have to meet my day, I don’t want a long funeral. And if you get somebody to deliver the eulogy, tell them not to talk too long. ... I'd like somebody to mention that day that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to give his life serving others." - Martin Luther King Jr., 'Drum Major' sermon February 4, 1968.

Before and after 6:01pm CST at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis Tennessee
Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. was fatally shot at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968, at 6:01pm CST. He was rushed to St. Joseph's Hospital, where he died at 7:05pm. Reverend King was in Memphis to support sanitation workers who were on strike.

The night before on April 3, 1968 Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. scaled the heights of American rhetoric dismantling the case for violence and reaffirming nonviolent resistance.

The King Center provided the following abstract summary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s I've Been to the Mountaintop speech on April 3, 1968 in their website:

Dr. King gave this address at the Mason Temple in Memphis, Tennessee the night before he was assassinated. He called for nonviolent protest and a boycott of Memphis area businesses in support of the Memphis Sanitation Workers strike. Conveying a sense of foreboding, he not only recounted a near-death experience when he was stabbed near the heart, but also spoke of the possibility of his own demise at the hands of those who opposed him.

In this speech Reverend King outlined the purpose of the overall nonviolent struggle in broad terms:
 "And that's all this whole thing is about. We aren't engaged in any negative protest and in any negative arguments with anybody. We are saying that we are determined to be men. We are determined to be people. We are saying -- We are saying that we are God's children. And that we are God's children, we don't have to live like we are forced to live."
Funeral services were held for Reverend King on April 9, 1968. Coretta Scott King requested that King eulogize himself: His last sermon at Ebenezer Baptist Church, a recording of his famous 'Drum Major' sermon, given on February 4, 1968, was played at the funeral.  The King family held solemn services for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Atlanta, Georgia, attended by thousands including the then Vice President of the United States, Hubert Humphrey, Senator Robert Kennedy, and Richard Nixon.

Meanwhile in Memphis the local government met the demands that had been made by Reverend King and the striking sanitation workers.

The King family went on to found the King Center and continued his nonviolent legacy to the present day. Other activists from King's inner circle continued their civil rights work, while some, like John Lewis, entered political life and continued working to realize Reverend King's beloved community in the U.S. Congress.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Remembering when Cuba was on the vanguard of medical research, and today's dismal reality in the time of COVID-19

Setting the record straight

America Arias Maternity Hospital Building (Havana, Cuba 1930s)
Original version: CubaBrief

Cuba today traffics its doctors abroad for the profit of the dictatorship while Cubans in the island do without. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic there are shortages in Cuba, and a regime that was slow to respond in a constructive manner leading to protests, and public calls for action. Meanwhile PBS is broadcasting Castro propaganda on Cuba's "vaunted" healthcare system in a program to air Wednesday titled "Cuba's Cancer Hope". 

The hard reality is that Cuba's glory days of "cutting-edge" medicine pre-date the Castro regime.

Carlos J. Finlay, pioneering Cuban doctor
Carlos Juan Finlay, a Cuban epidemiologist, discovered that yellow fever was transmitted from infected to healthy humans by a mosquito vector. Dr. Finlay identified that the carrier of yellow fever was the mosquito Culex fasciatus, today known as Aedes aegypti. Finlay's career began under the Spanish colony and continued into the early years of the Cuban Republic. Dr. Finlay was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1906.

However, he was not the only great Cuban doctor to become internationally renowned.

I know this first hand because as a child my pediatrician in Little Havana, in a modest office near Flagler Street, was Dr. Agustin Walfredo Castellanos, his patients used to call him "El Chino Castellanos". He was twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1959 and 1960 by Colombia and Ecuador respectively.

Dr. Agustin Walfredo Castellanos
Dr. Castellanos described "the first practical method of angiocardiography, with which he studied several congenital malformations of the heart. Also, he designed the first automatic angiocardiographic injection device. He also pioneered the method of retrograde injection of contrast material into the aorta which was mainly used to diagnose patent ductus arteriosus."

Reference to Castellanos (1938) and his co-workers in Cuba breakthrough in Angiocardiography

Angiocardiography, according to Merriam Webster is "the radiographic visualization of the heart and its blood vessels after injection of a radiopaque substance.

Dr. Castellanos and his colleagues published the first important paper on the clinical applications of intravenous angiocardiography in the Archivos de la Sociedad de Estudios Clinicos in 1937. Cuban medicine prior to 1959 was not just groundbreaking in basic research, but also in public health.

Cuban doctors in the 1930s provided the breakthrough that made above images possible.
 Professor James W. McGuire and Laura B. Frankel in their paper published in the Latin American Research Review, “Mortality Decline in Cuba, 1900-1959: Patterns, Comparisons, and Causes” found that “Cuba's progress relative to other Latin American countries at reducing infant mortality was even greater from 1900 to 1960 than from 1960 to 1995. During the earlier period, Cuba led all Latin American countries for which data are available at raising life expectancy and reducing infant mortality. From 1960 to 1995, by contrast, it came in fourth and fifth respectively.”

Rodolfo J. Stusser, M.D. in his November 2013 paper, "Cuba’s Long Tradition of Health Care Policies: Implications for Cuba and Other Nations," documented that "in 1958 Cuba had 6,000 physicians, 3,624 pharmacists, 2,260 pharmacies, about 500 laboratories, and 60 drug manufacturers, handling 40,000 different products for 6 million inhabitants."

Numbers don't lie, although the Castro regime would like to disappear them.

Thankfully, Glenn Garvin writing at Reason Magazine has burst one of the propaganda bubbles of the Castro dictatorship and its fictitious "lung cancer cure" reporting that "CIMAvax is far from a "cutting-edge" medicine. The truth is that it barely works at all. As Cuba's Cancer Hope admits in a single throw-away line, "Cuban clinical trials show that it extends life three to five months on average." The five-year survival rate for its users is about 15 percent, roughly the same as that for patients treated with approved U.S. cancer therapies. American oncologists hoot in frustration at patients who want help getting to Cuba to obtain CIMAvax. Says one, quoted in a recent report by Public Radio International: "Without seeing new stats, it's not that impressive… . I am not too worried about people not being able to go to Cuba."

Earlier this month, Castro's Venezuelan henchman was promoting Cuba's "interferon" as a cure that saved "around 3,500 lives in China" declaring Cuba in the vanguard, Caribbean National Weekly called it the antidote for COVID-19, and Newsweek was calling it a "wonder drug." The reality is far more humble. Interferon Alpha-2B Recombinant (IFNrec) was jointly developed with China, but they did not pioneer the discovery of interferon. Interferon research, not surprisingly, was pioneered in Switzerland in the 1950s. Finally, interferon is not a cure but a possible treatment, with risky side effects that in the late stages of the illness can cause more harm than good. The communist regimes in Cuba and in China are profiting off of the desperation of people around the world caught up in a pandemic that spread out of control because Beijing covered it up for weeks. Sadly, many have fallen for this propaganda.

One last point on Cuban medicine, post-1959 who are the great doctors that have made strides in medicine that have led them to be nominated for the Nobel Prize in Medicine? We know that Cuban medical missions have been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize on three occasions, but President Donald Trump has also been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. One need not be a doctor to get that nomination.

The more important question is how many Cuban doctors, educated and trained under the Castro regime, have been nominated for the Nobel Prize in Medicine?

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Will democracies recognize that Communist China is a menace, not a trusted partner?

“In our country the lie has become not just a moral category but a pillar of the State.” - Alexander Solzhenitsyn 

Xi Jinping or Mao Ze Dong: Who will end up being the greatest mass murderer?
Original Source: Freedom Synergy

There is a willful blindness when dealing with China’s dictatorship that is now costing the world much in the way of lives and treasure.

This Communist regime took power in 1949 and to reorganize the Chinese populace, its agricultural and industrial production along communist ideological lines created a mass famine and a death toll of 30 million Chinese between 1959 and 1961that it called the Great Leap Forward

In the midst of it communist China exported 9.6 million tons of grain, that accounted for 20% of famine deaths. Seven million more were killed between 1966 and 1976 in the Chinese Cultural Revolution. 

During “liberalization”, another half million people were killed, including students and workers massacred in June 1989. A British diplomatic cable, declassified in 2017, revealed that at least 10,000 were killed in the Chinese army's 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.

Despite this history, Democracies pursued a policy of empowering this regime, providing foreign direct investment, turning it into an economic powerhouse

They believed the monstrous regime would change for the better, they were wrong.

China covered up a November 2002 outbreak of an "atypical pneumonia called severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)."  Officials became aware of the illness in December 2002 and in January 2003, reports were marked top secret, and anyone who broke the silence on the outbreak would risk punishment for leaking state secrets. Because of the delay in making it public, the SARS outbreak spread to 8,096 people in 26 countries, killing 774 before it was contained.

This pattern was repeated in the November 2019 SARS-CoV-2 outbreak in Wuhan, identified by physicians in December 2019, and covered up by the communist hierarchy, who ordered test results destroyed. On December 30, 2019, Dr. Li Wenliang “who sounded the first alarms and released initial evidence online” was punished by the Chinese government for releasing the information. He allegedly perished from the Wuhan virus.” 

The Sydney Morning Herald reported on March 26, 2020 that in January 2020 and continuing through February the "Chinese government-backed global property giant Greenland Group were instructed to put their normal work on hold and source bulk supplies of essential medical items to ship back to China."  This was a worldwide effort "sourcing bulk supplies of surgical masks, thermometers, antibacterial wipes, hand sanitizers, gloves and [acetaminophen] for shipping." ... "According to a company newsletter, the Greenland Group sourced 3 million protective masks, 700,000 hazmat suits and 500,000 pairs of protective gloves from "Australia, Canada, Turkey and other countries"  

On January 11, 2020 the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission resumed updating infection cases of the new virus after suspending reports for several days. But the Chinese dictatorship repeated its claim that there had been no medical worker infections and that there was no evidence of human transmission, and reported that the number of confirmed cases had dropped to 41. On January 22, 2020 official Chinese TV finally recognizes that the disease was spreading from person-to-person. Two days later, Wuhan, a city of 11 million, was placed on lock down.

Antonio Regalado writing in Technology Review on March 4, 2020 reported that genetic sequencing research showed that the first cases of Coronavirus entered Europe and the United States from China as early as mid-January when both Beijing and the World Health Organization were denying the severity of the outbreak. SARS-CoV-2 has spread to over 721,903 individuals in 186 countries with 33,996 dead and climbing. 

Nevertheless on January 23rd the World Health Organization (WHO), that based its response on reports provided by Beijing, said “
novel coronavirus is not a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).” Seven days later, WHO finally declared the Wuhan Virus a PHEIC, but continued to defend the Chinese response as exemplary.

On February 1, 2020 the United States  announced that it would "deny entry to all foreign visitors who had recently been in China."  The head of WHO criticized the measure stating it, "can cause more harm than good by hindering info-sharing, medical supply chains and harming economies."  On February 3, 2020, China accused the United States of creating and spreading fear because it had closed entry to recent foreign visitors to China.

On February 3, 2020 news appears in Mother Jones that the Russians were engaged in a disinformation campaign charging that the United States was to blame for the Coronavirus outbreak in Cuba.

Beijing began an effort to sell aide, it had stockpiled, around the world in a highly visible manner in an effort to present itself as humanitarian. However, between 70 to 80% of  the COVID-19 test kits that China firms sold to Spain, the Czech Republic, and Turkey were defective and sparked outrage in these countries.     

The New York Times reported on February 28, 2020 that China was spinning that it was the leader in responding to the Coronavirus outbreak, and accused the United States and South Korea of responding too slowly.  Foreign Policy reported on March 2nd that in the prior week the Chinese had also been peddling that the United States was responsible for starting the pandemic, echoing earlier Russian disinformation.  

The consequences in lives lost and wealth destroyed by this pandemic will take some time to calculate, but at this early date point to large numbers on both counts.

Will democracies learn their lesson that empowering China, a regime that has murdered tens of millions of its own people, and systematically lies about dangerous epidemics should not be legitimized or economically empowered or will short term greed triumph again?

Monday, March 30, 2020

COVID-19 Shatters Cuba's Potemkin Village: Political pilgrims disillusioned with Castroism's failings

Castro regime's malign treatment of tourists continues.

Tourists trying to get out of Cuba before they can no longer return home.
COVID-19 may finally achieve what dengue, cholera, zika, and hurricanes could not, the shattering of Cuba's Potemkin village. Chilean and Mexican tourists are loudly protesting their conditions in Cuba. Carolina Cox, a prominent Chilean social influencer took to social media to denounce the conditions there and called on the Chilean government to get her home, before she erased her social media posts and presence. One would imagine that a retraction or alteration will be forthcoming in Orwellian fashion. She blames the "blockade" for the lack of internet access, but probably never heard of Alan Gross, who spent five years in a Cuban prison for trying to provide uncensored internet access to a Jewish community in Cuba.

This is a translation of what Carolina Cox said in the above video, and is worth reviewing before continuing to read this blog post.
"Hello, I am one of the 290 Chileans stranded in Cuba. Here in this "hotel" there are 60 people and they are in a center of infectious disease. Foreigners are constantly going in and out, there are plagues of mice. It is not a hotel that was open but they made it available now so that we could be here. ”

“You have to pay for this on your own, which is not cheap, it costs between 25 and 30,000 pesos a day for each one of us. In the case of the Argentine embassy they are covering accommodation and everything for us nothing.”

"Every day counts, we still do not have a flight number and if we do not insist it is likely that we could stay here so I ask for help please. We are also trying not to catch it and that nothing happens to us, because if any of us has coronavirus we are not going to return to our country."

“It is super distressing to be in such a moment in another country and in a country that also lacks soap and toilet paper. We have accounts blocked by the blockade that Cuba has, connecting to the internet is very difficult. ”

"The cards don't work for us. Please, please help us share this video. There are people who need medicine. Their are children, elderly and families. We demand a return plane, that the Government do something, that Copa, AeroMexico, Latam Airliners return us to our country. ”
This is not what they were promised.

Reuters reported on March 11, 2020 the Castro regime's claim that the first COVID-19 victims were "four Italian tourists who were staying at a hostel in the southern town of Trinidad after arriving at Havana airport on Monday had presented respiratory symptoms and were taken to a hospital on Tuesday." They tested positive for the coronavirus the following day.

Panama's Ministry of Health, a day earlier, on March 10th had reported that two Panamanians, ages 55 and 29 who visited Cuba had tested positive for the coronavirus when they returned home. Denying the presence of Wuhan virus in Cuba had become untenable.

This wasn't the Castro regime's first rodeo. The dictatorship has a long history of attracting tourists to the island under circumstances in which their safety was compromised.  Tourists traveled to the island during outbreaks of dengue, cholera, zika and now the Wuhan virus (SARS-CoV-2). But it wasn't always disease, other natural disasters were disregarded.

In September 2017 when Hurricane Irma, a deadly category five storm with 180 mile per hour winds was bearing down on Cuba and a hurricane watch already issued, tourists were still being flown into the island by British and Canadian travel agencies.The British travel agency "Thomas Cook defended itself saying the company followed the Cuban government's emergency instructions to the letter," BBC News reported.

Cayo Coco suffered the full impact of Hurricane Irma and was destroyed by the storm. They were flying tourists into Cuba to Cayo Coco a day prior to the storm's arrival, as reported by The Independent (United Kingdom).CBC News (Toronto) reported that Canadian tour operator Sunwing had elderly tourists flying into Cuba 24 hours before the Hurricane smashed into Cuba, forcing them to flee for their lives.

Returning to the current Wuhan virus (SARS-CoV-2) outbreak one should also take into account the false claims that Cuba had developed a cure. Nicolas Maduro on March 11th tweeted how Cuba's interferon had saved 3,500 lives in China.

Castro's military run tourism company, Havanatour, continued to pitch Cuba as a travel destination and posted a tweet on March 13, 2020 claiming that Coronavirus does not replicate at high temperatures and that the island is now 29-32 degrees Celsius.

On March 14, 2020 the general director of marketing of the Ministry of Tourism, Bárbara Cruz, indicated that Cuba had a strong health care system with which the regime would be able to attend to all the inhabitants and tourists who wish to visit Cuba, with the condition of abiding by preventive measures.

Steve Sweeney, writing for the MorningStar for Peace and Socialism on March 15, 2020 made the following claim:
"So far it is known that one of the drugs manufactured by Cuba, Interferon alfa-2b, has managed to effectively cure more than 1,500 patients from the coronavirus and is one of 30 drugs chosen by the Chinese National Health Commission to combat respiratory disease."
The left wing press claims Cuba has a cure for the coronavirus, but the reality is that Interferon alfa-2b is not a cure, and has not even been confirmed to be a treatment for COVID-19.

The testimony of the left wing Chileans and Mexicans stuck in Cuba and their descriptions of what they are experiencing: lack of water, soap, basic hygiene, lack of medicines, and inability to communicate by phone or internet demonstrates the crude reality that exists in Cuba that does not correspond with the images and statements provided by Cuban officials.

Word of warning to these youth, you are no longer in Chile or Mexico.  Freedom of speech does not exist in Cuba, and there are consequences for making the dictatorship look bad.  

It is also important to recall that on March 29, 1997 a soldier of the Castro regime using an AK-47 gunned down a Danish student, who was studying Spanish at the University of Havana. He had crossed to the wrong side of the street, and a soldier fired a warning shot, but the official explanation was that the gun jammed and fired several rounds killing the young man. His name was Joachim Løvschall and he was just 27  years old.

Joachim Løvschall: December 7, 1970 - March 29, 1997

Sunday, March 29, 2020

23 years without justice for Danish student gunned down in Havana by a soldier

"There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest." - Elie Wiesel, Nobel Lecture 1986

Joachim Løvschall: December 7, 1970 - March 29, 1997
Joachim Løvschall was studying Spanish in Havana in the spring of 1997. He was gunned down by a soldier of the Castro regime in Havana, Cuba twenty three years ago today on March 29, 1997. The identity of the soldier has never been revealed to Joachim''s family. No one has been brought to justice. Joachim's family is not satisfied with the official explanation.

The last time they saw Joachim 
On March 28, 1997 Joachim Løvschall ate his last dinner with white wine in a little restaurant called Aladin, located on 21st street in Havana. He went to the Revolutionary Plaza and bought a ticket to the Cuban National Theater. Following the performance he went to the theater's bar, Cafe Cantate, and met up with two Swedish friends. They each drank a couple of beers, but soon left because Joachim did not like the music. At 23:30, they said good bye to each other on the sidewalk in front of Cafe Cantate. 

Joachim was never seen alive again. 

The Castro regime's version of what happened

On September 28, 1997 the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published an article by Kim Hundevadt titled "Dangerous Vacation" that outlined what happened to Joachim Løvschall and presented the Castro dictatorship's version of the events leading to this young man's death:

Around 23:30, a person matching Joachim Løvschall's description was in a bar named Segundo Dragon d'Oro. The bar lies in the hopeless part of town, around the Revolutionary Plaza which is dominated by ministry and other official buildings of harsh concrete architecture, and lies empty in at night.
At 2:45am he left the bar, after becoming intoxicated. Around 20 minutes later, he was walking down the Avenue Territorial, behind the Defense Ministry.

Joachim Løvschall walked, according to the Cuban authorities, first on the sidewalk that lies opposite the Ministry. Midway he crossed over to the other sidewalk, considered to be a military area, though it is not blocked off.

The Cubans have explained that Joachim Løvschall was shouted at by two armed guards, who in addition fired warning shots, which he did not react to. Therefore, one guard shot from the hip with an AK-47 rifle. The first shot hit Joachim in the stomach and got him to crumble down. The second shot hit slanting down the left side of the neck.
Joachim Løvschall gunned down in Cuba in 1997
Thirteen years ago
On June 12, 2007 Christian Løvschall, Joachim's father, at a parallel forum at the United Nations Human Rights Council spoke about his son's disappearance and the struggle to find out if Joachim was dead or alive:
"Although the killing took place on the 29th of March, we only came to know about it on the 6th of April - i.e. after 8 days were we had the feeling that the Cuban authorities were unwilling to inform anything about the incident. Only because of good relations with Spanish speaking friends in other Latin American countries did we succeed in getting into contact with the family with whom Joachim stayed and the repeated message from their side was that they could reveal nothing, but that the situation had turned out very bad and that we had to come to Cuba as soon as possible. At the same time all contacts to the responsible authorities turned out negatively... Only after continued pressure from our side on the Cuban embassy in Copenhagen, things suddenly changed and the sad information was given to us by our local police on the evening of the 6th of April. We are, however, 100% convinced that had we not made use of our own contact and had we not continued our pressure on the embassy in Copenhagen, we might have faced a situation where Joachim would have been declared a missing person, a way out the Cuban authorities have been accused of applying in similar cases."
 Ten years later Christian Løvschall outlined what he knew concerning his son's untimely death:
We do feel we were (and still are) left with no answers except to maybe one of the following questions: Where, When, Who, Why Starting out with the where we were told that Joachim was killed by the soldiers outside the Ministry of Interior.
What we do not understand is why no fence or signs did inform that this is a restricted area? I have been on the spot myself, and the place appears exactly like a normal residential area. So you may question whether this in fact was the place of the killing? Contrary to this the authorities keep maintaining that the area was properly sealed off, and the relevant sign posts were in place.
As to when Joachim was killed we only have the information received from the police because of the delay informing one might believe that this is another forgery made up to cover the truth.
The who was in our opinion has never been answered by the Cuban authorities. We understand that a private soldier on duty was made responsible for the killing, and also it has been rumored that his officer in charge has been kept responsible. This is of course the easy way out, but why can't we get to know the whole and true story?   
Why did the soldiers have to fire two shots, one to his body and one to his head, to murder him? Was Joachim violent and did he, an unarmed individual, attack the armed soldiers? Or is it simply that the instruction to Cuban soldiers are: first you shoot and then you ask? But again: Who can explain why two shots were needed?
Despite the claims made by the travel industry there have been other travelers to Cuba who have been killed or gone missing under suspicious circumstances.