Friday, February 22, 2013

"Strategic Deficiencies"

"Strategic deficiencies" caught my eye while reading about the State Department's denial about being ready to finally remove Cuba from the list of terrorist countries that it creates itself to justify aggressive policies maintained against them.  How many people actually know what they are referring to?  Probably not many.  I'll clear it up.

It is a reference to the Financial Action Task Force report about "High Risk and non-cooperative jurisdictions".  In a public statement in October 2012, this organization said about Cuba the following:

In June 2011, the FATF identified Cuba as having strategic AML/CFT deficiencies and it had not engaged with the FATF. Since then, Cuba has significantly enhanced its engagement and co-operation with the FATF and made a request to join GAFISUD. However, the FATF urges Cuba to continue its engagement with the FATF and to work with the FATF to develop and agree on an action plan in order to address its AML/CFT deficiencies."

So there it is, according to the group itself.  :Cuba has significantly enhanced its engagement and co-operation with the FATF and made a request to join GAFISUD."  If we were to listen without knowing what the State Department is actually talking about, we might come away with the idea that Cuba is actively not doing anything to try and "address those deficiencies that pose a risk to the international financial system." (those are the FATF's reasons for working with nations).  Quite the opposite of what is suggested by our State Department!

The only deficiencies that I am aware of in this situation is the lack of good and meaningful reasons on the part of the U.S. government to have Cuba on such a list and I think they are aware of this.  The connections with the FARC have actually proved to be useful given that because of those links the Colombian government has been able to engage in a dialogue with the armed group, a dialogue with a goal of peace.

To me, deficiency in strategy better describes a problem facing Washington officials who would like to improve relations with Latin America yet find themselves being increasing viewed negatively by those nations for sticking with an unjustifiable policy towards Cuba.  As Washington tries to isolate Cuba, it finds itself becoming more isolated instead.  That is a strategic deficiency and it has nothing to do with the myth of Cuba being involved with terrorism.

I'm sure that the "high level diplomats" who made the suggestion that the U.S. has concluded to take Cuba off this list have come to the conclusion based on reality, not based on the obvious nonsense spewed by anti-Cuba "think tanks".

Note: FAFT (Financial Action Task Force)
         AML/CFT (Anti-Money Laundering/ Combating the Financing of Terrorism)
         GAFISUD (Grupo de Accion Financiera de Sudamerica) or (Financial Action Task Force on Money            
                         Laundering in South America)

(Thanks to Cuba Journal for asking me to be more clear about the acronyms I used.  I highly recommend reading  for information about the injustices committed by the "regime" in Washington against the "regime" in Cuba and isn't as lazy and uninformative as the corporate press and highlights many of the accomplishments of the Cuban people. Why only use the term "regime" when talking about the government of Cuba except to belittle a sovereign nation which is recognized to be as legitimate as the government of the United States?)  

Sunday, February 3, 2013

We Don't Take Our Democracy Lightly

We tend to believe that we live in a democracy.  But we live in a country that has a democratic action on the federal level once every 4 years.  Is there any wonder why we feel, and I don't care  where you are on the political spectrum, that the elected officials are not really acting in our best interests?  Who is it that our elected officials are listening to?  Not us. Not ordinary people.

The people who have the attention of the elected politicians are the very ones who seem to have the least frustration.  While we're clocking in at our jobs doing the exact same things we did yesterday, some people are busy at work writing or proposing legislation for our representatives to pass.

As far as I can tell, if what we've been doing is going to work everyday, we haven't been participating much in our democracy! 

Excuse me for my ignorance, I failed to remember that we do often choose between Coke or Pepsi and Burger King or McDonalds.  Like I said, we don't take our democracy lightly.

the WAy Kids arE Unbiased and Progressive

This morning, while taking my 8 year old son to baseball practice, I decided to use the time in the car to practice with him some simple math.  He got a little more than math practice out of it.

I gave him an example.  But first I asked him if he knew what he wage was.  He didn't, so I explained to him.

Here's have the example went:

Let's say that a man works in a baseball factory.  This man makes 2 baseballs in an hour.  The wage that he is paid is 2 dollars every hour.  And let's say that the owner of the factory needs to pay 1 dollar for the materials to make 2 baseballs.  How much does it cost the owner to have 2 baseballs made?

He thought about it and answered correctly.  "3 dollars because it's 2 dollars for the worker plus 1 more dollar for the materials."

Then I said, "let's say the boss sells each ball for 2 dollars.  How much does he make after paying for the materials and the worker?"  I reminded him that the 1 dollar of materials was for making 2 baseballs and the worker makes 2 balls in 1 hour.  He thought about it and said "50 cents if he sells 1 ball for 2 dollars."  That's right.

I gave him a few more mathematical possibilities and for the most part he got them right.  Then I asked him, "how many hours does a person need to work if he wants to buy 1 of the balls that he made it work?"  His answer was 1 hour.

I asked him what he thought about someone having to make 2 balls in order to earn enough money to buy 1 ball.  He realized the strange nature of the situation any told me, "he's getting ripped off!"

It's interesting how clear things are sometimes to an unconditioned mind of a child.