Cuba under Fidel’s long shadow

first_imgFollowing the death of Cuban leader Fidel Castro, one of the most mythical and divisive political figures of the 20th century, his legacy appears up for grabs.A hero for some and a villain for others, Castro will be remembered for leading a revolution that toppled a U.S.-backed military dictator in 1959 and for establishing a Communist regime on the doorstep of the United States in the midst of the Cold War.But Castro’s record as Cuba’s leader is mixed. Castro ruled his country for 47 years and spearheaded enormous advances in education and literacy, health care, and social equality. At the same time, he imprisoned thousands of dissenters and stifled civil liberties and political freedoms.To understand the complexity of Castro, the Harvard Gazette interviewed Jorge Dominguez, Antonio Madero Professor for the Study of Mexico, who is a leading expert on Cuba. This fall, Dominguez has been teaching a course on the Cuban Revolution, in which he instructs students to look at all aspects of Castro’s legacy. In his last class of the semester this past Friday, Dominguez gave his final judgment on Castro, the trend lines of which resemble his answers to the Gazette in the text here.GAZETTE: Fidel Castro was an extraordinary political figure of the 20th century, and yet for most Americans, including several U.S. presidents, he was seen primarily as a Communist dictator. What are the facets of Castro’s legacy that have been most overlooked in the United States?DOMINGUEZ: He probably was not a Communist for a good part of his life. And an interesting story, which may have not been entirely clear to Castro even on the day he died, is how it was that he went from being a political activist to becoming a Communist, how did he go from being a good student, a popular guy, a great athlete in the nation’s elite private school to do what he did. That’s a story that used to be of great interest to U.S. presidents and to the American public, but it’s good to remember that for some significant portion of his life he was not a Communist.GAZETTE: Who was he before he became a Communist?DOMINGUEZ: He was a political adversary of the Communist Party that existed in Cuba. He had no support, no relationship with the Soviet Union before he came to power. He actually prevented the early development of Soviet-Cuban relations after the revolution. He blocked the arrival of an ambassador that the Soviet Union wanted to send. This is something that U.S. presidents should have tried to understand better. It was more important to understand why so many of the things to which the U.S. government most objected, in Cuba’s behavior and Castro’s behavior, received such broad support elsewhere. Let me give you a specific example. The U.S. said that apartheid in South Africa was wrong, but no one, other than Fidel, sent troops to defeat the South African military when they invaded Angola. No one, other than Fidel, committed troops in support of the independence of Namibia, which had been occupied by South Africa. Henry Kissinger and the Ford administration were appalled at this behavior, but in Africa there was almost unanimous cheer.GAZETTE: How was it that Castro became a Communist? Was it the decision of the United States to isolate Cuba that pushed Castro into the arms of the Soviet Union?DOMINGUEZ: I think his decision to be the man that he was was his own. I never believed in the argument that Fidel was pushed to be a Communist and an ally of the Soviet Union. I think he deserves now in death the respect to say that this is a very smart man who knew what he was doing. He was not a robot, a child, or a puppet of anybody. But the U.S. applied policies that often were stupid and counterproductive — even toward the end of Castro’s career — and facilitated but did not cause Fidel’s shift. Before Fidel stepped down because of his illness, the Bush administration published a 300-page book about how the U.S. was going to help the reconstruction of Cuba. Among the things the U.S. proposed was to help Cuba with education and health care. On what planet were the people who wrote this? It’s true that by that time Cuba’s education and health care were not as good as they have been in the past, and that’s why support for the government, for the Communist Party, for the regime weakened over the past 25 years. But still, in some respects, it was a heck of a lot better than in the U.S., where more babies die at birth in Washington, D.C., than in Havana.GAZETTE: How did the Cold War influence the view of the U.S. about Castro? The U.S. saw him as a pawn of the Soviet Union.DOMINGUEZ: Did the Soviets tell Castro to deploy tens of thousands of troops to Angola? The Soviets didn’t know what he was doing. He did it on his own. The U.S. did finally recognize that he wasn’t just a puppet of the Soviet Union, that he was doing it on his own. His support for anti-colonialist struggle in Africa, and in particular against Portugal, which had colonies in the continent, gave him enormous popularity. They didn’t want to remain colonies, and the one nation that did the most [to help them] turned out to be Cuba. The U.S. was horrified because Portugal was a NATO ally, and Cuba was mucking things up by helping all of these people that the rest of Africa called freedom fighters. What is interesting about a lot of this stuff is that Cubans got away with it, and the Soviets were in the background. Fidel was doing things that revealed a more accurate understanding of the world, in the middle of the Cold War, than the U.S. had.GAZETTE: Was the U.S. stuck in a Cold War mentality that somehow prevented it from grasping Fidel’s real dimension?DOMINGUEZ: It was, to some extent. Fidel said publicly in 1961 that he was a socialist, and he then made clear he was a Marxist-Leninist. And that melted into the narrative of the Cold War. If it’s communism, it must be bad. In the context of the Cold War, there is a way in which thinking among otherwise extremely smart people in the U.S. government, universities, and think tanks got impoverished. Then the thinking became “How do we cope with a Communist?” as opposed to “How do we cope with a guy who is a risk taker, who is brilliant, who is ambitious, who comes from a tiny, insignificant country but thinks that he could be the head of a world power?” The Soviet Union sent lots of troops to Afghanistan, and they couldn’t win. The U.S. sent lots of troops to Vietnam, and they couldn’t win. Fidel sent lots of troops to Africa, and he won the three wars he sent troops to fight.GAZETTE: How was that possible?DOMINGUEZ: Well, he didn’t win them because he was a Communist. He won because he was good at what he was doing. He was a visionary, an ambitious leader, someone who was out to have a major impact on the world and had built a colossally impressive military establishment. Unlike the military establishments in the rest of Latin America, Cuba’s was designed to be deployed overseas. The comparison is to U.S. troops, and troops in France, the U.K., and, in a slightly different way, Israel. Cuba was in that league.Fidel Castro speaking at a rally in Havana, Cuba, 1978. Credit: Wikimedia CommonsGAZETTE: Castro had success in Africa, but what about Latin America? Although his influence was deeply felt in the region, there was never another Cuba to emerge.DOMINGUEZ: He did fail in the way he thought he was going to have an impact in Latin America, and that was because he — and perhaps Ernesto “Che” Guevara, as the more intellectual and more analytical of the two, bears some responsibility here, as an interlocutor for Fidel — because he drew the wrong lessons about how it was that they won in Cuba in the 1950s.GAZETTE: Tell us how the Cuban revolution really succeeded.DOMINGUEZ: The mistake in the interpretation is that it was a bunch of guys who, holed up in a mountain in a rural area, defeat the incumbent regime. And the real story is that it was a much more complex set of forces, often not coordinated, that weakened the old regime. Many of those forces were from the inside: military corruption, conspiracies, and coup attempts, and many university students in the cities engaging in acts of civic resistance and political violence. It was overwhelmingly this urban protest and this internal weakening of the state that brought the regime down. What had happened in the mountains is that Fidel had been surrounded and protected by bodyguards. Everybody else, who might have replaced the old regime, got killed, [but] not him.GAZETTE: Was Castro a hero or a villain?DOMINGUEZ: He was a hero for some. I continue to meet people who are university professors, first-rate academics, who tell me they were poor when they were growing up. If you talk to someone who is older, it’s not uncommon to hear them say, “I grew up poor. I learned to read when I was 35 years old, and my daughter now is … . Wow.” How couldn’t you think he was a hero? Of course, you would. To me, one of the most impressive statistical observations is that 20 years after he took power, and as a result of programs that were instituted, there were no differences by skin color in the likelihood of a newborn baby dying as an infant, and no differences by skin color in primary school completion. That’s not the United States. That is not Brazil. That’s not the case in Cuba today. Once again, there is inequality that is marked by color, but that’s in part because things have become worse for Cubans in the last 25 years. But in the moment when he was able to do the kind of things he wanted to do, some of these outcomes were very impressive.GAZETTE: But for all Castro’s achievements, he ruled for almost 50 years. What kind of ruler was he?DOMINGUEZ: To give you a sense of magnitude, at one point I was able to compare the number of political prisoners that Fidel admitted to holding to the political prisoners that the opposition in Chile under [leader Augustin] Pinochet claimed Pinochet was holding. So there is a bias in the comparison. It’s very simple arithmetic, political prisoners per population. There is no peer. Cuba had many, many more political prisoners. Those who think he’s a villain point to this. In Cuba, just like in Chile, torture becomes an administrative practice through the 1960s, lots of people died, and some died in prison. Others are formally executed through the application of the death penalty after trials that do not meet the standard of due process. Thousands of people were sent to prison for many years for crimes of opinion and association and remain in prison for far, far longer than in Pinochet’s Chile. That’s the ugly part.GAZETTE: Let’s talk now about the U.S. obsession with Cuba. Why did Cuba matter to the United States?DOMINGUEZ: At the beginning, it mattered a great deal. One reason is, “Who do they think they are? This doesn’t happen to the United States.” An expression used by many U.S. presidents for the past couple of centuries was that Cuba was “our backyard.” Secondly, there were concerns over expropriation of U.S. companies, at the time the largest expropriation that anybody had ever conducted against U.S. companies anywhere in the world. And thirdly, of course, it becomes part of the Cold War because Cuba becomes a public ally of the Soviet Union. In addition to that, Castro starts mucking around, supporting revolutions, and deploying troops across the Atlantic Ocean. It’s not irrational for the U.S. to say, “You can’t take the property of our companies without compensating. We don’t want an ally of the Soviet Union to be deploying troops,” and so on. There is a lot of rationality to what became the U.S. response, including the application of economic sanctions, for many years. The problem is that the U.S. policy toward Cuba since 1990 stopped being a rationalist policy. It’s similar to a bullfight when the bull sees red.GAZETTE: The U.S. financed an invasion of Cuba, which failed, but it also funded several assassination attempts against Castro. What was the rationale of that?DOMINGUEZ: The U.S. government thought at the start, “We’re going to invade, we’re going to assassinate Castro, we’re going to do sabotage, impose economic sanctions, and get rid of him.” Years later, the U.S. stopped invasions and assassination attempts but decided to make Castro’s life difficult by sustained economic sanctions. When the policy gets off the rational scale is when these economic sanctions continue after the collapse of the Soviet Union. After the collapse, it’s just, “We have you and your regime over a barrel, and we’re going to do anything possible to get rid of you.” And that’s no longer a rational strategy. The gap between ends and means is enormous. One may think that Cuba’s political regime should change, but at the cost of economic sanctions, tougher than the U.S. had imposed on Iran. Why? It backfired enormously because it became the thing Castro could say to Cubans, “The fault is not in ourselves, the fault is in U.S. economic sanctions.” And the U.S. kept ratcheting up sanctions in the 1990s, culminating with the enactment of the Helms-Burton Act in 1996, which codifies the economic sanctions. Castro ordered it to be translated into Spanish and read over national radio and television to tell Cubans, “See? It’s true. They want you to starve to death. It’s not me.”GAZETTE: And now that President-elect Donald Trump has said he might reverse President Barack Obama’s opening to Cuba, what are the risks of that?DOMINGUEZ: Let’s take a U.S.-Cuba agreement by which the Cuban government commits itself to doing as much as it can to prevent undocumented migrants from leaving Cuba. When someone manages to get on a boat and is caught by the U.S. Coast Guard, the Coast Guard takes him to a Cuban port and the Cuban government receives him. Trump could reverse this policy, and therefore, let all the undocumented migrants wash onto the southern Florida shores. Isn’t that a great idea? Another possible scenario is this: Since 2002, the U.S. has exported to Cuba $5.25 billion of agricultural products, and almost all of it comes from Republican red states. The president could, of course, reverse that policy and say to the governors and the agribusiness companies that they cannot do it anymore. Trump used Twitter to say he’d reverse the deal. What deal is he talking about? There is not a deal. There are many, and these two examples are older. Take a recent one. Yesterday, for the first time since 1961, American airlines landed a scheduled flight that went from Miami to Havana. Trump could reverse that deal. What is that deal? It’s a civil aviation agreement where the two governments solemnly affirm their sovereignty, and only U.S. airlines are flying. Cubana de Aviacion is not flying to the U.S. It’s the part where a mercantilist like Trump would say, “This is great for U.S. airlines, not for the other guys.” So what does he want to reverse? Does he want to reverse the permission to Starwood Hotels to manage three hotels because he’d like Trump hotels to open up? The key point is that a lot of what has been built cooperatively between the U.S. and Cuba serves not just the U.S. agenda but the Trump agenda. No government in the world does what Cuba does with regard to migration. That’s a poster child for Trump policy on migration. The Cubans do whatever they can to enforce and effect the kind of migration policy Trump wants. How could he possibly not see this?GAZETTE: In a famous speech, Castro said after his first attempt to overthrow the [U.S.-supported Fulgencio] Batista regime, “History will absolve me.” What do you think? Will history absolve Castro?DOMINGUEZ: The history part remains to be seen. I do not absolve Castro because Castro’s personal responsibility for some of the awful things that occurred under his rule is really large. I give him a great deal of credit for the good things that happened during his presidency. But if in the end one needs to draw a balance sheet, I cannot justify the terrible things that occurred at his command. Many people will absolve him. Not me. But what’s interesting about this man is his complexity. What I wish in the Cuba course I teach is for students to understand the complexity of this man. The point of the course is to get them to think. One can make a very rational, even emotionally moving, argument as to why Fidel was such a great president. The students can come to the judgment on their own that he was or he wasn’t. But my role is not to indoctrinate them. My role is to help them to think.GAZETTE: So will Castro keep being a polarizing figure for the years to come?DOMINGUEZ: Probably. And it’d be a more interesting history book if it conveys a sense of a more polarizing figure.This interview has been edited for length and clarity.Savelast_img read more

Gold Gang adds to game day experience

first_imgOn home game Saturdays, 11 students hide behind mysterious personas and gold spandex, roaming campus to greet Notre Dame fans who seek the perfect photo opportunity.These 11 men make up the Gold Gang, a group currently in its second year on campus. For every home game, they go out in their morph suits to add a memorable element to the game day experience at Notre Dame.Junior Ryan O’Donnell works as a guide for the Gold Gang and speaks for the men behind the gold spandex, whose job requirements include an oath of silence while working.Photo courtesy of Ryan O’Donnell “You’re not allowed to know who they are — it defeats the illusion of the Gold Gang,” O’Donnell said.O’Donnell said the Gold Gang supplements the traditional Notre Dame game day atmosphere so many fans travel across the country to experience.“It’s different, it’s unique and I don’t know how many other schools have this,” O’Donnell said. “I personally like the ‘wow’ factor, like the ‘What is that? Why are there people in gold suits?’ reaction that we get.”According to the Gold Gang’s website, the 11 members represent Notre Dame’s 11 football national championships. The group’s website tells the fantastical backstory of how the Gold Gang came into being after a night at the lab, where Knute Rockne was working on bottling the Notre Dame spirit.“We love our school and we’ll do whatever we can to show you how great Notre Dame is,” O’Donnell said. “It functions similarly to what the cheerleaders and leprechaun do, just to give that greater promotion of the Fighting Irish mentality.”Sophomore Aline Irihamye said her experience with the Gold Gang last year started off as initial curiosity and then ended with a picture that her and her friends look back on (Editor’s note: Aline Irihamye is a news writer for the Observer).“I found out that one of my friends was one of the Gold Gang members, but he wasn’t allowed to tell me while in the morph suit,” Irihamye said. “I just remember one of the Gold Gang people gesturing wildly at me with his hands, and me wondering why he was doing that.”Anonymity is an important element in the Gold Gang group, and on their website each member is listed as a number — each corresponding to a national championship year — rather than a name in order to preserve their element of mystery and intrigue.O’Donnell said one of his favorite memories working as a guide for the Gold Gang came when a little girl who was initially scared of the members eventually warmed up to them and started dancing with them.“Last year we dropped by this tailgate and this little girl screamed like she was afraid,” O’Donnell said. “The next thing I know, they’re all dancing together and having a fun time and they were really sad when we had to go somewhere else.”The Gold Gang frequents hotspots such as LaFortune and Notre Dame Stadium during home games and takes pictures with everyone, whether or not they are cheering for Notre Dame.“If you see us on campus, come take your picture with us because that’s what we’re here for,” O’Donnell said. “Create a lasting memory and put it on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and enjoy your game day and know that we’re here to help you enjoy it even more.”Tags: football, Football Friday Feature, gameday, Gold Ganglast_img read more

“Walking While Black” Documentary To Be Screened In Jamestown This Week

first_imgShare:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window) “Walking While Black” Documentary poster. Image by WalkingWhileBlackTheMovie.com.JAMESTOWN – A local Jamestown church will be hosting a public screening of the “Walking While Black: L.O.V.E. Is The Answer” documentary this week.The documentary explores the challenges law enforcement faces while policing in communities of color.Featuring interviews with peace officers, faith leaders, educators, activists and others, the film works to offer an inspiring blueprint to end racial profiling and heal our communitiesThe film was produced for audiences to engage in conversations to improve police-community relations, teach anti-racism, and help people to learn how to love each other. The screening will take place Friday, November 13, at 6:30 p.m. at the Zion Covenant Church at 520 E. Fairmount Ave.The on-site viewing will accommodate 100 people, individuals are also able to view via a zoom link as well.Register for either online or in-person viewing on the Zion Covenant Church website www.zioncov.org or call the church at (716) 488-9310.The viewing is hosted in collaboration with the Chautauqua County Sheriff Department.last_img read more

‘Operation Lightning’ Makes a Dent on Violent Crime in Honduras

first_img Lobo added that Operation Lightning will result in “less pain and less tears” for the people of Honduras. A week after Operation Lightning kicked off, members of the Honduran government, Justice and Human Rights Ministry, Executive Branch, National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH), the National Police, and Armed Forces announced the formation of a new organization known as the Truth and Reconciliation Committee (CVR). The committee aims to monitor sectors of the government and national security to limit inter-organizational corruption and assure that criminal acts are punished appropriately. “One of largest deficiencies in our current legal and governmental system is that criminals in this country are improperly punished,” said Juan Orlando Hernández, chief of the National Congress. “They are arrested, given preventive prison and released without being punished, brought to trial or jailed for sufficient time. The purpose of this committee is to recognize those deficiencies to improve the way we handle delinquency in Honduras.” Much of the impetus to create the committee stemmed from an incident in late October, when the 22-year-old son of the chancellor of UNAH, one of the country’s largest universities, was killed along with a friend by members of the National Police near Tegucigalpa. Four police officers were arrested on suspicion of involvement in the murder, though they were released three days later. They have not been heard from since. Marco Tulio Palma, the director of the National Police, said in a press conference that it was known that “the four officers arrested were the authors of the murders,” but that assistance from fellow officers allowed them to be released. “We as a country have to recognize that we are a part of very fragile society in Honduras,” said former security minister Alfredo Landaverde. “The country is penetrated by corruption across all sectors. It is rampant in the police, in business and in politics.” Within the past 12 months, 176 National Police officers have been arrested on suspicion of being linked to drug-trafficking organizations. The mission of the CVR is to reduce such instances of organizational corruption. “This committee will be utilized to assure the moral authority of national leadership, as well as to assure that dialogue between government and security sectors are aligned in their commitment to the general interests of the country,” said Ana Pineda, the minister of Human Rights and Justice. So far, the number of arrests made by National Police in November is on pace to be the highest this year. Drug confiscations have been consistent throughout the month in San Pedro Sula, including a bust made at a mailing company in the Suyapa neighborhood on Nov. 17. Early that morning, several DNSEI agents raided the building and found several kilos of cocaine packed into computer hard drives. The computers were intended to be shipped to the United States. “We are starting to see some results from the initiatives we have put into action,” Lobo said. “But we still have a long way to go to make gains against the scourge of drug-trafficking in this country.” During his Nov. 19 speech, Lobo said that the biggest challenge facing Honduras now is to restore peoples’ faith in the government and security forces. “It’s undeniable that we need to recover the confidence of our people. We can’t lose faith,” he said. “The only thing that will revitalize the peoples’ confidence is to prove that crime can be controlled.” Violence in Honduras has reached historic levels. Between 2006 and 2010, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the country’s homicide rate nearly doubled, from 46 per 100,000 citizens in 2006 to 82 per 100,000 in 2010 – making Honduras the homicide capital of the world. Put another way, says the Honduras National Commission for Human Rights (CONADEH), an average of 20 people are killed daily in Honduras. In 2000, the daily homicide rate was 8.7. “We are facing an epidemic,” said Ramón Custodio López, the country’s national commissioner for human rights. “To think that in 10 years, the national average for homicides has grown by over 11 murders per day is harrowing. Our security systems have been simply unable to control the fierce escalation of crime caused by drug-trafficking and gangs.” Faced with such alarming statistics, members of the Honduran government, National Police, Armed Forces, and Human Rights and Justice ministries have been creating alliances to combat crime in the country’s most violent-prone regions. In San Pedro Sula, the country’s second largest city — located near the Caribbean coast and the northern border with Guatemala — President Porfirio Lobo earlier this month launched a crime-fighting initiative known as “Operation Lightning.” As part of the program, the government assigned 2,000 army and 14,000 National Police officers to the region, as well as to the capital of Tegucigalpa, about 240 kilometers to the south. “Operation Lightning will install a large police presence in the areas and sectors of high conflict,” said Lobo. “Hundreds more officers will be monitoring, supervising and evaluating these regions. Urgent action is required in this country and we hope Operation Lightning will provide a solution.” In 2010, more 1,800 murders were reported in San Pedro Sula and the nearby Caribbean port city of Puerto Cortes. Crime is so bad in San Pedro Sula that Honduran media outlets have dubbed it the “Ciudad Juarez of Central America.” In March, several “drug bodegas” were discovered in San Pedro Sula, including a cocaine processing lab located in the mountains just outside the city. In the house, Honduras national security forces recovered ten 100-kilogram bags of cocaine, equipment to manufacture the drug, eight M-16 guns with around 1,000 rounds, 30 military grenades, 25 rounds for a grenade launcher, AR-15s, AK-47s, and several different uniforms of regional armed forces. The cocaine processing lab was the first of its kind to be discovered outside South America. The National Special Services and Investigation Organization (DNSEI), says crime in Tegucigalpa has fallen by more than 90 since the launching of Operation Lightning, while crime in San Pedro Sula has dropped by 50 percent. “We have been able to diminish the number of violent deaths in Tegucigalpa significantly since launching Operation Lightning,” Lobo said. “It has only been a few days, but we are certain that in time, the population will begin to again have the confidence to walk through the streets of this country without the fear that they will be victims of crimes.” By Dialogo November 28, 2011last_img read more

Documents Portray Osama bin Laden as Frustrated Al-Qaeda Leader

first_img “Bin Laden wanted someone who had not pledged allegiance [to the U.S.],” said an unnamed U.S. government official who was familiar with the matter, according to the Times report. “He felt they were on stronger religious grounds,” said the former official. The documents analyzed the time span from September 2006 until April 2011. West Point analysts were careful to note that the papers, culled from a much larger trove, provide only a partial glimpse of bin Laden’s mindset and way of thinking over the past half-decade. Bin Laden urged renewed terrorist efforts in Afghanistan Instead, bin Laden saw the revolutions in the Middle East as an opportunity to begin “inciting people who have not yet revolted and exhort them to rebel against the rulers.” Shahzad later admitted he lied under oath when he promised not to bring harm to the United States as part of his citizenship ceremony. Despite his own hatred of America, bin Laden viewed the broken oath as an offense against Islam. Bin Laden believed an operative with a valid Mexican passport would have easier access to the United States without violating an oath. WASHINGTON – A trove of documents seized by U.S. Navy Seals during a daring raid of Osama bin Laden’s secret compound last year make no mention of al-Qaeda’s plans for Latin America, although a new media report suggests he hoped to recruit operatives with Mexican passports. Experts at the Combating Terrorism Center at the West Point Military Academy scrutinized and translated the documents over the past year, and released their finding publicly last week. “I really read all of this as [the writings of]a very frustrated man,” said Ahmed Rashid, a prominent Pakistani journalist and author of “Taliban” and “Pakistan on the Brink.” “Despite these huge efforts to write these letters and question everything, he was not in command, he was not an authority and he was not getting much of a response to what he was saying or suggesting.” “He was the world leader of Islamic jihad and nobody would question him then,” Rashid said. “Now, having some of these groups that are not very prominent, but very bloodthirsty, not listen to him must have been frustrating. His authority was less, and that must have been a big ego blow to him.” According to a source quoted May 2 by the Los Angeles Times, bin Laden was annoyed that al-Qaeda operative Faisal Shahzad took a sworn oath of allegiance to the United States before he tried to blow up an SUV loaded with explosives in New York’s Times Square in 2010. The interpreted documents portray bin Laden as frustrated by his waning influence outside al-Qaeda and marginalized by his top-secret whereabouts and a general inability to travel. The CTC analysis shows that bin Laden consistently urged his lieutenants to forgo domestic attacks that killed Muslim civilians and instead focus on the “desired goal” of permanently crippling the United States. Report indicates Osama wanted to infiltrate U.S. from Mexico, Canada “Bin Laden’s letter was littered with detailed instructions to be followed to ensure the safety and security of the remaining brothers even if the work ‘should proceed at a slower pace during this period’,” the report said. In Afghanistan, bin Laden wanted his fellow terrorists to continue their fight against the United States, the CTC report says. He believed that their efforts weakened America, enabling Muslims elsewhere to revolt against their rulers, no longer fearing that the United States would be in a powerful position to support these rulers. “Bin Laden’s frustration with regional jihadi groups and his seeming inability to exercise control over their actions and public statements is the most compelling story to be told” from the released documents, the CTC report said. Al-Qaeda’s relationship with Iran questioned “On the operational front, the affiliates either did not consult with bin Laden or were not prepared to follow his directives,” the report states. “Therefore, the framing of an ‘AQC’ [al-Qaeda Central] as an organization in control of regional ‘affiliates’ reflects a conceptual construction by outsiders rather than the messy reality of insiders. Rashid said the bin Laden letters reveal a stark contrast to his bravado after a wave of deadly terrorist attacks on U.S. embassies in Kenya, Nairobi and Tanzania in 1998, and then the 9/11 attacks on the New York and the Pentagon in 2001. The report says bin Laden was annoyed by what he viewed as incompetence among leaders of al-Qaeda “affiliates” in Iraq, Pakistan and Yemen, and he resisted conferring on the groups the official al-Qaeda brand. The documents show bin Laden was unimpressed by their “lack of political acumen to win public support, their media campaigns and their poorly planned operations which resulted in the unnecessary deaths of thousands of Muslims.” “This is some guy sitting in one room trying to intellectualize about his future and the future of the party, without any contact to the outside,” Rashid added. “It seems to me to be the actions of a man in acute frustration.” “Although references are made about ‘trusted Pakistani brothers,’ there are no explicit references to any institutional Pakistani support for al-Qaeda or its operatives,” the report says. While many outside observers might think that bin Laden’s objectives with respect to the United States aligned at least somewhat with Iran’s, the documents reveal deep distrust between the Iranian government and al-Qaeda leadership. However, he was not heartened by the possible ascension of groups like the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, whom he viewed as too moderate to accomplish radical change. In fact, Bin Laden saw little use for traditional politics. A review of documents released by the CTC shows that bin Laden spent his final years fretting about al-Qaeda affiliates in Pakistan, Iraq and Yemen because he thought their recklessness hurt the mission’s cause worldwide, according to documents released by the U.S. government last week. “The relationship between al-Qaeda and Iran is one of the least understood aspects about al-Qaeda’s history,” the CTC report adds. “References to Iran show that the relationship is not one of alliance, but of indirect and unpleasant negotiations over the release of detained jihadis and their families, including members of bin Laden’s family,” the CTC reports states. “The detention of prominent al-Qaeda members seems to have sparked a campaign of threats, taking hostages and indirect negotiations between al-Qaeda and Iran that have been drawn out for years and may still be ongoing.” “Far from being in control of the operational side of regional jihadi groups, the tone in several letters authored by bin Laden makes it clear that he was struggling to exercise even a minimal influence over them,” the report added. “In line with al-Qaeda’s traditional stance, bin Laden dismissed the Muslim Brotherhood [and similar Islamist groups], accusing them of being in pursuit of ‘half solutions,’” the report states. “This, in his parlance, means that although they raised the banner of Islam in their political discourse, they deviated from its teachings when they agreed to pursue their objectives through the electoral process.” CTC: Osama was encouraged by Arab Spring The report says discussion of Pakistan by bin Laden – at least in the documents released publicly – is “scarce and inconclusive.” The documents suggest al-Qaeda and other Islamic terrorists did not enjoy the kind of cooperation from official Pakistan that some observers suggest. “Bin Laden, it was said, could run but he could not hide,” the CTC reports states. “He seems to have done very little running and quite a lot of hiding.” U.S. authorities have long suspected that al-Qaeda wanted to smuggle operatives into the United States from it neighbors. The Times also cited a declassified CIA report written in 2003, titled “Al-Qaeda Remains Intent on Defeating U.S. Immigration Inspections,” that said specific information at the time demonstrated al-Qaeda’s “ongoing interest to enter the United States over land borders with Mexico and Canada.” By Dialogo May 08, 2012 The longtime al-Qaeda leader, killed in a covert U.S. raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan, a year ago, also brooded over the terror group’s contentious relationship with Iran – a squabble fueled in part by Iran’s detention of members of bin Laden’s family. “Pakistani authorities were beginning to exert pressure on us and closely monitor our movements, making it very difficult for Arab brothers and others to reach Afghanistan via Pakistan,” bin Laden wrote, according to the CTC report. Bin Laden also expressed deep concern about the 2010 drone killings of al-Qaeda operatives in Waziristan. He urged that his “brothers” in the region flee to safer ground, advising them to move on cloudy days when drones would be less likely to locate them. Report says Osama saw affiliates as incompetent Sayf al-‘Adl, one of al-Qaeda’s top-tier leaders, wrote in letters obtained prior to the Abbottabad raid that after the 2001 U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, many al-Qaeda operatives traveled to Iran presuming they would be left alone. Instead, al-‘Adl wrote, Iran “began a campaign of arresting people and deporting them to their home countries,” which the al-Qaeda leader believed was due to U.S. pressures. Bin Laden viewed the so-called Arab Spring as a positive development in his quest to create a global Islamic state. He had long wanted to overthrow the Saudi monarchy and other Middle East governments, and establish an Islamic state according to Sharia law. Pakistani journalist: Osama was ‘not in command’last_img read more

German discount rate disparity seen as ‘unconstitutional’

first_imgEighty percent of German companies surveyed by Mercer want the treatment of pension liabilities for tax purposes and statutory accounting to be aligned, with some experts declaring the gap unconstitutional.The consultancy surveyed a random selection of 80 of its corporate clients in December 2016. It said 94% thought the difference between the discount rates was unfair and 83% thought a harmonisation of the two rates was either “important” or “very important”. The vast majority (87%) also supportedaddressing the gap within the next five years.In addition, 80% said the discount rate used for calculating liabilities under Germany’s main accounting standards (HGB) should be adopted as the rate used for calculating liabilities for tax purposes.The discount rate for tax purposes (“steuerlicher Rechnungszins”) affects companies offering on-book-pension promises (or direct promises, “Direktzusagen”), which represent a large portion of German pension liabilities – around €285bn in 2014. The rate has been 6% for decades, while the HGB discount rate has been steadily declining: as at the end of 2016 the HGB rate was 4.01%. Mercer said the different rates effectively penalised companies choosing to pay pensions directly from their balance sheets, as they have to report higher profits in their tax accounts than in their statutory accounts. This put them at a disadvantage over companies implementing a different pension model, or offering no occupational pensions at all, according to Mercer.Thomas Hagemann, chief actuary at Mercer in Germany, said pension liabilities were “artificially understated” as a result.The disparity has been a source of disgruntlement for those companies affected for some time, but Hagemann told IPE that the issue has become more important as the difference between the discount rates has grown.“Now, because of the sustained interest rate development – the HGB rate is steadily falling and will go even lower – the differences are so large that the principle of parity between the rates isn’t satisfied anymore,” Hagemann said.Asked about the prospects for change, Hagemann said there were some signs that the government may eventually be prepared to make some adjustments, but this was really only a faint light at the end of the tunnel.Arguably more notable, according to Hagemann, was that some experts viewed the disparity as unconstitutional.He pointed in particular to comments made by Johanna Hey, a prominent tax lawyer, who Hagemann said has looked at the issue in the most depth and made this argument most explicitly.The Mercer survey showed that although there is dissatisfaction among companies about the different discount rates, on-the-book pension promises are not being written off as a model of pension provision.More than a third of respondents believe that the different treatment of pension liabilities for tax purposes does not make the Direktzusage route for occupational pensions less attractive. Almost a quarter (24%) were prepared to expand or introduce this type of pension provision if the discount rate for tax accounting is aligned with the HGB rate.In a statement Hagemann said that these results do not square with recurrent talk about on-book pension promises being on their way out.However, “the tax discrimination” was a barrier to the expansion of this type of pension provision and the government, whose reform proposal is aimed at boosting occupational pension coverage, should act on this soon, he added.last_img read more

Accounting roundup: Guidance issued on pension equality costs

first_imgAn influential group of UK accountants has issued guidance on dealing with challenges created by the requirement to equalise legacy pension benefits for men and women in some defined benefit (DB) schemes.The Pensions Research Accountants Group (PRAG) has been working on the impact of equalising “guaranteed minimum pension” (GMP) payments following a UK High Court ruling in October that has already had a significant impact on DB pension liabilities.The guidance was prepared by the PRAG’s Statement of Recommended Practice (SORP) working group.PRAG SORP chairman Kevin Clark said: “The paper sets out a practical approach for determining the need to accrue or disclose based on materiality considerations and the ability to reliably measure backdated costs. The paper also provides suggested to disclosures for the different scenarios schemes may face.” Last October, the High Court ruled that GMP payments were subject to EU equality laws even though they were based on the UK’s state pension, which is paid out to men and women at different ages.Although the ruling concerned DB schemes sponsored by Lloyds Banking Group, lawyers and consultants said it could affect thousands of schemes and payments going back over nearly 30 years.It also meant that scheme sponsors were faced with the challenge of estimating a large additional DB liability in the run-up to the accounting year end.This latest guidance means that sponsors could disclose an estimate of the likely accounting liability or a statement explaining that the issue will be addressed in a later accounting period. A number of employers have already done this.Any assessment of the liability would be subject to a materiality assessment, the PRAG said in statement.IPE has collected data from 165 UK DB schemes with combined liabilities of more than £507bn (€590bn). Between them, the aggregate bill for GMP equalisation stands at just under £2.3bn, or 0.45% of total liabilities.Biggest GMP bills (£m)Chart MakerEstimated GMP bills as a percentage of liabilitiesChart Maker Further readingAnalysis: UK pension equality costs ‘lower than forecast’ Hymans Robertson estimates that the final bill for GMP equalisation will be far less than the estimates published last year by other consultancy groupsHybrid pension plansThe Accounting Standards Board of Canada (AcSB) has released a summary document detailing a number of possible research avenues for the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) to explore in relation to the accounting treatment of hybrid pension plans.The researchers, drawn from Canada, Germany, Japan and the UK, proposed separating the DB and defined contribution (DC) components within a hybrid pension promise and accounting for each separately.They also suggested that the IASB should conduct further research into accounting for guaranteed elements within hybrid plans or, alternatively, develop a free-standing measurement approach for this group of plans.Last July, senior staff from AcSB urged the IASB to examine the issue more closely.They said: “Our findings point to the need for further guidance on accounting for hybrid pension plans to better reflect their economic characteristics and reduce diversity in practice.”The AcSB work on hybrid pension plans covers a wider range of issues than the IASB’s existing research project into pension benefits that depend on an asset return.The IASB planned to consider the results of its research findings “in the near future”, the AcSB said in a statement.UK parliament inquiry into the future of auditcenter_img Meanwhile, the Business, Enterprise and Industrial Strategy committee (BEIS) of the UK’s lower house of parliament has issued a damning report calling on the government to break up the so-called ‘big four’ audit firms by forcing them to spin off their audit work from their consultancy businesses.The committee’s report stated: “We are not confident in relying solely on the integrity of auditors to do the right thing in the face of conflicting interest.”It also described the audit sector as “the route to milking the cash cow of consultancy business”.In a statement, the UK’s audit watchdog, the Financial Reporting Council, said: “The FRC shares a number of the concerns expressed in the… report which are consistent with the evidence we submitted to its inquiry.“Long term fundamental changes to the regulation of audit form part of the implementation programme we are developing with BEIS.”FRC draft plan and budget 2019The release of the report comes as the FRC seeks public comments on its draft corporate plan and budget for the coming year.Among its priorities for the next 12 months is the transition from the current audit oversight regime to the new Auditing, Reporting and Governance Authority.Alongside this transition, the FRC said it also planned to step up its work to improve audit quality, improve corporate reporting, and focus on Brexit-related issues such as EU auditor accreditation.The consultation document also revealed that the FRC was readying itself “voluntarily to apply Freedom of Information provisions to all our work prior to formal designation as a public authority”.The announcement could potentially cast light on the FRC’s approach to the supervision of audit firms during the 2008 financial crisis.last_img read more

ECCO makes another record payout

first_img Tweet 16 Views   no discussions Share Share Photo credit: caribarena.comThe Eastern Caribbean Collective Organisation for Music Rights (ECCO) Inc., the St. Lucia based music royalty collection organization for the OECS, will today make royalty payments to its members and members of affiliated societies totaling over $450,000. This is a record achievement by this small regional organisation surpassing its disbursement of $¼ Million made in 2011.With further distributions scheduled for later in the year; September and December, in respect of Royalties for Jingles (music in advertisement) and for Major Live Events (Carnivals, St. Lucia Jazz, St. Kitts Music Festival & World Creole Music Festivals, etc.). ECCO’s total disbursement for the year could top the half million mark which will be more than double the total disbursement of last year.ECCO General Manager Steve Etienne says; “As revenue from record/CD sales have declined dramatically in our region, songwriters and music publishers are looking more and more towards the public performance right which ECCO manages for support. Therefore, it is imperative that the level of royalty payment received by the worldwide community of creators be proportionate to the use of their musical works. However, whilst collection levels in St. Lucia and Dominica continue to be relatively healthy, the organization is under achieving in the other OECS territories where only a few of the major events and music users are licensed”. ECCO’s general manager Steve Etienne adds: “Members at our recent AGM urged us to step up legal action against abusers of their music rights and as a result we will be very busy in the Courts across the ECCO territories”.ECCO is an association of composers, songwriters and music publishers and is the legal entity responsible for administering the performing right in the musical works of its members and members of Affiliated Societies in the OECS. Through reciprocal agreements with Affiliated Societies worldwide ECCO has control of the world’s music repertoire, that is to say, ECCO is responsible for licensing all public use of music in the OECS.Press Releasecenter_img Sharing is caring! Share LocalNews ECCO makes another record payout by: – July 11, 2012last_img read more

RB Leipzig sign South Korea’s Hwang to replace Werner

first_img Read Also: Ighalo thrilled as Pogba, James show off dancing skills (video) Last autumn, Hwang also bagged three goals in six Champions League matches in the group stages alongside Norwegian teen Erling Braut Haaland, who netted eight time in Europe before his January transfer to Dortmund. This is the second stint in Germany for Hwang, who spent 2018⁄19 on loan at fallen giants Hamburg in the second division. FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmail分享 Loading… RB Leipzig announced Wednesday the signing of Hwang Hee-chan from their sister club Red Bull Salzburg to replace Timo Werner, but the South Korea forward is unavailable for the Champions League next month. The 24-year-old inherits the number 11 shirt Werner vacated when he left for Chelsea last month. Hwang has agreed a five-year contract in a transfer reportedly worth nine million euros ($10 million). He is the 17th player in eight years to move from Salzburg to Leipzig as both clubs are backed by Austrian energy drink giant Red Bull. “He fits perfectly into what we require, can play any position in attack, on the wing or acting as a central striker,” said Leipzig sports director Markus Kroesche. “With his speed and agility he makes our attack even more flexible.” However, Leipzig pointed out Hwang has signed for 2020-21 campaign and will miss the Champions League finals tournament in Lisbon next month.Advertisement The German side, who finished third in the Bundesliga last season and knocked out Tottenham in the last 16, will discover their quarter-final opponents in Friday’s draw. Hwang scored 16 goals making 22 assists in helping Salzburg win the Austrian league and cup double last term. Promoted ContentTop 10 Tiniest Phones Ever Made5 Of The World’s Most Unique Theme Parks13 kids at weddings who just don’t give a hootTop 7 Best Car Manufacturers Of All TimeThe Best Cars Of All TimeTop 10 Most Populated Cities In The WorldPlaying Games For Hours Can Do This To Your Body5 Of The World’s Most Unique Theme ParksWhat Is A Black Hole And Is It Dangerous For Us All?Top 10 Most Romantic Nations In The World8 Superfoods For Growing Hair Back And Stimulating Its GrowthWho’s The Best Car Manufacturer Of All Time?last_img read more

Covid-19: NWFL cancels 2019-20 Women’s Premier League season

first_img Loading… “According to the communique, clubs to use the period of the break to complete all registration processes including evidence of up to date payment of salaries to their players. “In view of the approval of Caf to commence the Caf Women Champions League in 2021, it was agreed that the 2020/2021 Nigeria Women Premier League season will be structured as a full season (straight league) with a plan to organize another draw for this purpose. “The league leadership urged all clubs to display and give quality representation on the continent during the inaugural Caf Women Champions League. Clubs are advised to give a good account of themselves. “Also at the virtual meeting, the Head of NWFL Management Committee, Aisha Falode, briefed the club chairmen and managers of Fifa Covid-19 Solidarity fund relief to the Confederation and National Associations with specific reference to USD 500,000.00 to each National Association for women’s football development, noting that it is the prerogative of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to determine the breakdown. read also:NFF to focus on NPFL, NNL, NWFL Leagues–Sanusi“The meeting also urged club owners to unite themselves and put the past behind, for the sake of women’s football growth in Nigeria. And most importantly, the meeting eventually resolved the issue of a faction between the club owners and it is now one family.” The development means champions Rivers Angels will now have to defend their title in the 2020-21 season which doubles as the qualifiers for the inaugural Caf Women’s Champions League. Nigeria is now the latest country in Africa to cancel its women’s leagues after Uganda, Morocco, South Africa, Algeria, Kenya, Liberia, Cameroon, Senegal and Burkina Faso due to Covid-19. FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmail分享 Nigeria Women’s Football League [NWFL] board has announced the complete cancellation of the 2019-20 Nigerian Women’s Premier League [NWPL] due to the coronavirus disruptions. The campaign, which was initially set to kick off on March 25 was postponed indefinitely four days earlier over the global health crisis. This cancellation means the women’s leagues, including the top-flight, will not take place for the first time since the first championship was organised in 1990. Having scrapped the season, it further resolved that the next term will start after the government’s approval for football’s return in the build-up for the new Caf Women’s Champions League. Wednesday’s decisions were the outcome of a virtual conference meeting, which was attended by NWFL chairperson Aisha Falode and chairmen of the women’s clubs on Tuesday. “The management committee of the Nigeria Women’s Football League headed by Aisha Falode in conjunction with women club owners and managers have unanimously agreed to scrap the 2019/2020 season, in the three tiers of the women’s league, for the sake of protecting the health of the players and officials in the various clubs, in line with the Covid-19 protocols,” the NWFL announced in a statement made available to Goal. “In the communique signed after the virtual meeting, it was also agreed that clubs should be encouraged to prepare for the 2020/2021 season contingent upon the time the protocol for resuming sporting activities is approved, as the league will resume after approval has been given to the Protocol for the resumption of sporting activities document submitted by the Minister of Sports to the Covid-19 Taskforce and the National Assembly and NFF lifts the ban on football activities. “The meeting also agreed that clubs are to continue to observe the existing Protocol guidelines put in place by the NCDC and the Covid-19 Presidential Taskforce as the League Board will not compromise standards, therefore, 2020/2021 will continue by abiding by the existing registration and every cup to should ensure that all necessary registration requirement should be put in place, as all registration for 2019/2020 will be carried over to 2020/2021.center_img Promoted ContentMeghan And Harry’s Royal Baby: Everything You Need To Know9 Facts You Should Know Before Getting A Tattoo7 Universities In The World With The Highest Market Value18 Beautiful Cities That Are Tourist Magnets7 Black Hole Facts That Will Change Your View Of The UniverseBest Car Manufacturers In The World7 Non-Obvious Things That Damage Your PhoneThe 10 Best Secondary Education Systems In The WorldThe Very Last Bitcoin Will Be Mined Around 2140. Read MoreWhat Are The Most Delicious Foods Out There?Who Is The Most Powerful Woman On Earth?7 Theories About The Death Of Our Universelast_img read more