Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute uncovers one of Cuba’s hidden natural treasures

Forty-three dives resulted in almost 20,000 underwater photographs of the never-before-studied mesophotic coral reefs during a month-long circumnavigation of the entire coast of Cuba.(Photo: Cuba’s Twilight Zone Reefs Expedition/CIOERT at FAU Harbor Branch)

An ocean exploration led by scientists from Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute spent months exploring never-before-studied mesophotic coral reefs along the entire coast of Cuba.

The team of scientists, from the U.S. and Cuba, discovered new species of sponges and range extensions or depth records for several species of corals, gorgonians, sponges, algae and fish, according to a news release.

Forty-three dives resulted in almost 20,000 underwater photographs of the never-before-studied mesophotic coral reefs during a month-long circumnavigation of the entire coast of Cuba. (Photo: Cuba’s Twilight Zone Reefs Expedition/CIOERT at FAU Harbor Branch)

Scientists took nearly 20,000 underwater photographs during the exploration and 100 hours of video.

Except for a few places along the coast, prior to this expedition, there were virtually no data or charts indicating what was beyond the shallow reef zone, the news release states.

See video here.

Dacia L Johnson, TC Palm

August 22, 2017

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Lewis Hamilton Got Taste Of Cuba’s Legendary Car Culture On Unicef Trip

Three-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton is used to driving some of the most jaw-dropping, cutting-edge vehicles in the automotive industry, from his W08 EQ Power+ single-seater to his custom Pagani Zonda 760 LH. But even Hamilton doesn’t drive anything as cool as the cars that he recently got to check out in Cuba.

The 32-year-old Mercedes-AMG Petronas driver posted a picture Tuesday, revealing that, while on the Caribbean island, he got an up-close look at Cuba’s legendary car culture. The picture shows Hamilton standing in front of what looks like a 1959 or 1960 Chevrolet Impala, but likely is very different than an Impala underneath its skin.

Havana’s car scene is famed throughout the world, as the city is full of American models from the 1950s, many of which have been MacGyver-ed to extend their lives. Cubans haven’t been able to import cars, or parts, since the early 1960s, so motorists have been forced to find creative ways to keep their classics running.

Hamilton was in Havana as a Unicef ambassador, visiting various youth development programs throughout the city. While in the nation’s capital, though, in addition to seeing its cars and humanitarian efforts, the Brit experienced various aspects of Cuba’s culture.

F1 returns from summer break Sunday with the Belgian Grand Prix, so Hamilton’s Unicef trip essentially marked the end of his vacation. It seemingly was calmer than the way he prepared for the British Grand Prix, but considering he won that race, maybe he spent extra time dancing to stay energized.

See video here.

Pat McAssey, NESN

August 22, 2017



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Latin American Council of Social Sciences Supports Venezuela

President Maduro denounces U.S. military threats. | Photo: EFE

CLACSO strongly rejected Trump’s threats and instead argued for a political solution to the crisis in Venezuela.

The Latin American Council of Social Sciences, CLACSO, has warned against U.S. military intervention after U.S. President Donald Trump said he would consider a “military option” against Venezuela.

In the statement published on Facebook, the organization listed the consequences of military action, pointing to the impacts of previous U.S. interventions in the region including “incalculable civilian deaths” and “incalculable economic loss.”

“No region of the world in the last 200 years has suffered as much abuse from the U.S. empire as Latin America,” it added.

CLACSO strongly rejected Trump’s threats and instead argued for a political solution to the crisis in Venezuela.

“CLACSO expresses its strongest rejection of these declarations. We believe that whatever your position may be on the political crisis in Venezuela, we must unite to express our firm rejection of the violation of the sovereignty of any Latin American and Caribbean country.

“We believe that only Venezuelans can overcome through dialogue and deliberate dialogue the grave situation in the country,” read the statement.

CLACSO is an international, non-governmental organization with UNESCO associate status. It is made up of 616 centers of investigation across 47 countries.

by teleSUR / mk

teleSUR, August 20, 2017


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Cuba Expert Speaks At Eldredge Library

CHATHAM – On Wednesday, Aug. 23 at 10:30 a.m. Dr. Ted Henken will give a talk at the Eldredge Public Library about the long-fraught relationship between the U.S. and Cuba.

“The main areas that I focus on are economic reforms and the emerging micro enterprises in the private sector,” Henken said.

Specifically, Henken will explain how an increased access to the internet has affected Cuba’s economy. “Cuba is the country with the least access to the internet in the Western Hemisphere,” Henken remarked. “In the last five years there’s been a relatively fast growth of the internet, which has enabled growth to occur in the country.”

This has greatly benefited certain Cubans in their work. Journalists, for example, who are not employed by the government and instead either work for themselves or for a newspaper or magazine, are now able to create a digital platform for their work.

Henken, an associate professor of sociology and Latin American studies at Baruch College, City University of New York who worked as an informal consultant regarding U.S. Cuban relations to the Obama administration, will also be discussing recent developments regarding the relationship between the U.S. and Cuba. Although President Obama restored diplomatic relations with Cuba and made significant progress with economic relations, President Trump announced in June that he plans to roll back some of those policies.

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Just Back From Carnival Paradise: Cruising to Cuba

The August air was thick but the seas were calm as the Carnival Paradise sailed into Havana on one of the most scenic approaches we’ve experienced aboard a cruise ship.

Even though it was 6:30 a.m., many passengers gathered on the deck of the Carnival Paradise to gaze at the still-illuminated city lights. The sun slowly crept over the hills while a small vintage airplane circled overhead. You could feel the excitement as the ship slipped past the Capitol building, El Cristode La Habana statue, and the famous Malecon boardwalk where we got our first glimpse at Cuba’s iconic old-fashioned cars. We had come a long way from Tampa, but had waited even longer for a chance to visit Cuba.

Carnival’s Paradise is the first ship from the Carnival fleet to sail to Cuba since the embargo — and the only cruise ship currently sailing from Tampa to Havana — but the journey is not unprecedented. In the early 1930s, a passenger ship named the SS Florida briefly sailed the Tampa-Key West-Havana route. Now, we were following in the steps of history and Carnival knew how to make it memorable.

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Maduro Marks 12th Anniversary of Medical Cooperation with Cuba

On Aug. 21, 2005, Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez signed the historic Sandino Commitment. | Photo: Reuters

Nearly 6 million people across Latin American have benefited from the program.

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro has commemorated the 12th anniversary of the Sandino Commitment, an agreement which led to the Cuban visual health care program, Miracle Mission.

On Aug. 21, 2005, Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez signed the historic Sandino Commitment, a plan which pledged to help vulnerable communities access to affordable eye care and surgery through the Miracle Mission program.

Since then, nearly 6 million people across Latin American have benefited from the program, leading to significant reduction in preventable blindness in the last decade.

In a Facebook post in tribute to the agreement, President Maduro wrote, “this agreement was aimed at proving visual health care to the Venezuelan people … but it wasn’t limited to our country, it is a plan of international cooperation that reached poor people across Latin America and the Caribbean.”

“That’s why the Bolivarian Revolution and the Cuban Revolution are the most important expressions of humanism and brotherhood in Latin America,” the message ended.

Since it began, the program expanded to poor communities in at least 21 Latin American countries and 14 Caribbean countries.

Some of the most common eye ailments treated surgically under the program are pterygium, cataracts, glaucoma, and strabismus. Free corrective eyeglasses have also been provided as part of the program.

World Health Organization has also commended the program’s efforts to make visual health care affordable for people suffering from blindness or corrective visual deficiency.


by teleSUR/ ms-MK

teleSUR, August 21, 2017

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Hospitality Students Go Beyond Cigars and Old Cars in Cuba

On-the-ground research project helps master’s students envision tourism ventures in a largely closed economy

Editor’s note: This post is sponsored and produced by Georgia State University’s J. Mack Robinson College of Business. 

When Georgia State University Clinical Professor Leonard Jackson joined the Regynald G. Washington Master of Global Hospitality Management program four years ago, he lobbied to add an overseas travel component to the curriculum.

“You can’t go global just sitting in a classroom,” he says.

In an effort to avoid just another fluff study abroad excursion, Jackson selected a dynamic and unpredictable environment: Cuba. He cites the slow reforms aiming to liberalize the island nation’s command economy, its fast-growing tourism rate (ranked second in the Caribbean behind the Dominican Republic) and evolving political landscape as perfect ingredients for a rigorous applied research project.

Conducted by Cecil B. Day School of Hospitality Management in the GSU Robinson College of Business, the program’s past two cohorts have taken the 10-day trip. Fourteen students from the class of summer 2017 traveled to Cuba in May and wrapped up their projects at the end of July, just before graduation.

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Black Lives Matter in Cuba

Afro-Cubans in Havana Plaza | Photo: EFE

It is precisely because of Cuba’s anti-racist and pro-worker policies that the U.S. government has labeled the country “a violator of human rights.”

As activists unite to confront white supremacy in the United States, it is important for us to study other societies outside the U.S. that have made true strides in racial and economic justice, in order to better envision the world that we want to create.

After listening to President Donald Trump’s June speech on Cuba, in which he reversed all the steps that the Obama administration had made to improve relations, one might not think to look towards this island nation as such an exemplary society. However, one must understand the history of Cuba to see why the U.S. government is escalating the six-decade war and embargo against the socialist country. It is not hard to see that the issue of race is central to the capitalist empire’s war on this socialist stronghold.

The Revolution’s Early Measures Against Racism

Like most colonial nations, institutional racial oppression was brutal in pre-revolution Cuba. Black Cubans formed the most oppressed sector of society: they faced rampant job discrimination in which they had no access to most positions in government, health care, transportation, and retail. A system of Jim Crow-style segregation relegated Afro-Cubans to specific neighborhoods and schools, and they were banned from hotels and beaches.

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Venezuela Calls for International Peace Summit

The Foreign Ministry of Venezuela holds meeting with diplomatic corps. | Photo: @vencancilleria

Arreaza stressed, however, that participating countries must demonstrate goodwill toward peace, “not foreign interference.”

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza called for an international meeting of all countries that are in favor of a peaceful dialogue between the Bolivarian Revolutionary government and the opposition.

Speaking to an international diplomatic corps Saturday, Arreaza stressed that participating countries must demonstrate goodwill toward peace, “not foreign interference, disrespect for (Venezuela’s) sovereignty or the laying of political groundwork for U.S. imperialism to implement an intervention in Venezuela.”

He noted that diplomatic teams of past mediation processes headed by former Panamanian President Martin Torrijos, former Dominican Republic President Leonel Fernandez and the former Spanish President Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, were welcomed, according to La Radio del Sur.

European countries that have demonstrated a “willingness to facilitate talks with respect to Venezuela’s sovereignty” were also urged to take part in the talks, he added.

Venezuela has faced months of political turmoil caused by a right-wing opposition that wants to oust the democratically-elected government of Nicolas Maduro and threats of military intervention and tightened sanctions by the United States.

Arreaza exhorted all countries in the region and beyond to reflect clearly about the summit and consequences that could arise if peace doesn’t prevail.

He reiterated that if they “truly believe that dialogue is the path for Venezuela” and the request for an international summit is not a media strategy proposed by the government, then those countries should “respond to the call.”

Finally, the foreign minister said the details of the summit, the meeting place, and the date will be announced in the coming days.

The international summit was initially requested by Maduro on Aug. 8, just days prior to President Donald Trump’s declaring that a U.S. “military option” was not off the table in its continued interference in the country’s internal political affairs.

See video here.

La Radio del Sur-AVN-EFE

by teleSUR / jc-RT

teleSUR, August 20, 2017

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Cuba Wins Silver and Bronze Medals in Women’s Discus in Birmingham

Birmingham, United Kingdom, Aug 20 (Prensa Latina) The Cuban athletes Denia Caballero and Yaimé Pérez today won the silver and bronze medals, respectively, in the discus contest in the 12th stage of the 2017 Diamond League in this city.

Caballero (65.24 meters), world champion in 2015, and Pérez (65.11) followed the Croatian athlete Sandra Perkovic (67.51) in the podium.

Therefore, the Cuban athletes recovered from their fiasco in the World Championships in London, where they finished fourth and fifth, in that order, although their objective was to win medals.

Perkovic, two-time Olympic champion and two-time world title holder, consolidated herself in the first place in the general ranking of the 2017 Diamond League with 31 points, followed by Pérez (25) and Caballero (23).


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