Cuba

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Can You Hear Me Now?
If you believe the global media, Cuba is a crumbling communist regime with sunny beaches, wonderful music and poor, but happy people.

They never mention that Cuba has some big time Signal Intelligence facilities all over the island. The Russians built the spy bases, which uses Chinese  satellites to intercept telephone communications in the US. They can do more than listen, though. They have the ability to interfere with computer networks, change electronic files and, more importantly, change output commands of computers used to control infrastructure facilities.

The state-of-the-art signals intelligence post in Bejucal, just west of Havana, includes a large array of satellite dishes and antennas spread over about 28 square miles – all just a little more than 90 miles from the Florida coast.

In the mid 90’s, as the Russians were constructing the facility, the first president of Russia, Boris Yeltsin, was telling President Bill Clinton that he was committed to democracy and the free market, and friendship with the United States. Yes, the same Boris Yeltsin who got so drunk during a presidential visit with the Clintons in Washington, he was found standing outside the White House in his underpants, trying to hail a taxi so he could go out for a pizza. I’m still trying to erase that image from my mind.

The big question is, if President Obama can successfully open trade negotiations with Cuba, will he let them take over Guantanamo? The U.S. has operated a base there since 1915. It might be a good idea to stay there to monitor what Russia, China, Iran and North Korea are listening to.

In the meantime, enjoy our favorite Cuban import, Gloria Estefan – Reach:

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Syria

oil

Who Controls the Terrorists
“If you tell me… that we misused or got corrupted with $50 billion, I’ll tell you, “Yes.” … But, more important, more important — who are you to tell me this? … What I’m trying to tell you is, so what? We did not invent corruption, nor did those dissidents, who are so genius, discover it. This happened since Adam and Eve. … I mean, this is human nature.”
– Bandar bin Sultan

Presidents, Prime Ministers and Royalty all seem to kowtow and bow to the Saudi Royal family. Less than a century ago the Arabian Peninsula was populated by nomadic tribes controlled by families. What changed things? World Wars I and II and the discovery of oil.

Prior to the petroleum business, the main source of income on the Arabian Peninsula came from tolls paid by pilgrims traveling between holy cities. During WWI Britain was fighting the Ottomans and with the help of the Sharif of Mecca, created a united Arab state. In 1926 the head of one of the Arab families,  Ibn Saud, declared himself the King. The rest, as they say, is history.

With untold oil-wealth the Saud family has become very corrupt. Today we have Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan, bon vivante, man about town, ewok look-a-like and bestie to the Bush clan threatening heads of state who do what Saudi Arabia wants.

In 2008 Bandar threatened PM Tony Blair and the British government with a UK terrorist attack if they didn’t shut down an investigation into alleged multi-billion dollar illegal arms deals made between  British Aerospace Systems and Saudi Arabia. Read more here.

Now Bandar has made President Putin an offer he thought couldn’t be refused. Saudi Arabia wants the Syrian government toppled so it can run its gas pipeline through the country and  Russia’s support of Syria puts a damper on those plans. Just like Al Capone, Bandar offered Putin a deal he thought couldn’t be refused – if Russia will back down on its support of Syria the Saudis will “allow” Russia to control its own oil and gas pipeline and Putin can be guaranteed that Chechen terrorists won’t threaten the security of the Olympic games in Sochi. Whoa! Read more here.

Thank goodness there is one hard-assed leader that will stand up to this thug’s threats. Putin told him to pound sand. Way to go Vlad!

As for Obama, he is still using George Orwell’s language of “newspeak” on the American people. Yesterday when he addressed the country (and the world) on Syria he called our nation a Constitutional “Democracy”. The U.S. is a Constitutional “Republic”. Unlike a democracy, in a constitutional republic, citizens are not governed by the majority of the people but by the rule of law. We’re listening, Obama.

Enjoy David Bowie – This is Not America:

Spies

Woodstock

The Woodstock Typewriter
Between WWI and the end of the second world war, many people believed world communism was the only way to put and end to war. Not all the proponents of communism in the US were refugees from the ghettos of Russia. Americans who wanted to bring the United States into a global form of government were eager to spy for the “mother country”.

Alger Hiss and Whittaker Chambers were both Americans who believed in a one-world government and became members of the communist party and both became spies for the Soviet Union.

During the second war, when Stalin could no longer hide reports of the millions of Russians he murdered, the majority of utopian idealists woke up and broke from the party. Many of those who worked as spies and tried to break free were assassinated.

Chambers became disillusioned with communism but Hiss did not. Hiss worked in FDR’s Justice Department, State Department and became close friends with the Roosevelts. The President was told many times that Hiss was a soviet agent but FDR would always turn a deaf ear. In fact, Franklin Roosevelt’s administration was filled with communists including Harry Dexter White who was assistant Secretary of the Treasury and Harry Hopkins, FDR’s closest advisor.

Hiss was with the President when he met with Stalin and Churchill at Yalta in 1945 to discuss post-war policies. He was instrumental in convincing FDR to hand over Eastern Europe to Stalin and to give the Soviet Union the majority of influence in the United Nations.

Hiss wrote the Charter for the United Nations and became its first acting secretary-general, and eventually went on to become president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

In 1948 the House on Un-American Activities called Whittaker Chambers to testify against his friend Hiss, who denied being a communist. During the hearings Chambers provided proof that Hiss was part of a large group who were working in the Federal Government and sending sensitive information to Stalin. That’s where the Woodstock typewriter came in to play. Chambers produced evidence of Hiss’s espionage with four handwritten notes in Alger Hiss’s handwriting, five strips of microfilm and sixty-five typewritten copies of State Department documents typed on Woodstock typewriter number 230099. Although Hiss wasn’t charged with espionage because the statute of limitations had expired, he was found guilty on two counts of perjury and served three years of two five-year sentences.

After the Soviet Union fell in 1991 and the Russian archives were opened and the US released the Venona transcripts, the final proof was revealed that Hiss was, in fact, an agent for Soviet military intelligence (GRU).

Crosby Stills Nash & Young – Woodstock:

Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous

watch

Palaces, Planes and Yachts! Oh my!
There’s no doubt about it. Vladimir Putin is a workaholic. When he’s not flying fighter jets or putting out brush fires the leader of Russia is busy cutting oil deals, fighting the war on terror and dealing with Pussy Riot.

Next year’s Winter Olympics will take place in Sochi, a resort on the Black Sea where Mr Putin has a vacation home. Overseeing the creation of the Olympic village is taking up much of the President’s time since the sheer scale of the project is staggering. The village has to be built from scratch with a new highway, new railway, a renovated airport and new hotels.

Let’s face it, there is little time for the 60-year-old to pamper himself. Or is there? Apparently, there is.

A 32-page report released by former deputy prime minister, Boris Nemtsov, has given us a glimpse into some of the perks of being President of Russia. There are Presidential palaces, a fleet of aircraft and luxury yachts at his disposal.

Although we don’t see outward signs of personal wealth, rumor has it that Mr. Putin is one of the richest men in the world – made possible by his investments in oil.

We have noticed that Mr. Putin does enjoy a few of the finer things in life – like the time pieces he wears on his wrist.

The Russian President wears some of the most expensive watches in the world. We’ve seen  many photos of Putin wearing a Patek Philippe from his collection and some say they’ve seen Mr. Putin wearing a $500,000 German Tourbograph.

Anyway, I’m certain, as President, Mr. Putin is always assured a front-row seat at any of his favorite concerts.

Enjoy the Scorpions performing with the Presidential Orchestra of the Russian Federation in red square 2003 – Send Me An Angel:

Friends

Putin and Berlusconi
According to WikiLeaks cables, Berlusconi ‘profited from secret deals’ with Putin

From the Guardian:
The Italian media – or at least those elements of it not controlled by Berlusconi – have covered the US embassy cables leaks extensively, focusing on three aspects. First, the allegations of corruption on the South Stream gas pipeline, a Gazprom-Eni joint venture that will bring gas from Russia to Europe. Under scrutiny is the Eni building, part of the infrastructure crossing the Caspian sea, which will cost €15.5 bn (US$21.75 billion).

The second focus relates to the Georgian conflict in 2008, and Berlusconi’s motifs in that crisis — the American diplomats described him as “Putin’s unconditional spokesman in Europe”.

The third relates to the confirmation that decisions on Italy’s foreign policy have clearly been shifted from La Farnesina, the foreign affairs ministry, to Berlusconi’s inner circle and, allegedly, to his business associates. This, again, was hardly top secret. Why would one businessman who has so shamelessly used his political power for his personal interests at home decide to stop at national borders?

The fact that the American diplomats seem to candidly share the suspicions that many Italians have always harboured has sent Berlusconi’s people into an almost comic hysteria. The top comedy award must surely go to Franco Frattini, Italy’s current foreign affairs minister, who loudly proclaimed that the WikiLeaks revelations were the “9/11 of International Diplomacy” and that Julian Assange wants “to destroy the world”.

You can read the rest of the article here.

In the meantime, enjoy the great Joe Cocker – With A Little Help From My Friends:

Photo of Silvio Berlusconi and Vladimir Putin at Putin’s rural lodge in 2003 by Viktor Korotayev/AP

Cruisin’ With Putin

The Ultimate Road Trip – Russian Style
On a four-day, 1,300 mile road trip across Siberia, Russia’s Prime Minister, the macho man of world leaders, made clear he is still Russia’s dominant politician.  Will he return as president in 2012? We’ll have to wait and see.

In the meantime, dressed in a casual polo shirt and wearing sunglasses, Mr. Putin got behind the wheel of a yellow Lada Kalina for the first part of his road trip.

Keeping up with Vladimir isn’t easy. At the beginning of August, the 57 year old piloted a fire-fighting plane during the worst fires in Russia’s history, he went chasing whales in a rubber boat, and just last week he met with Bono at his seaside residence in Sochi.

Bono and U2 – I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For:

The Russians are Coming

Russian Billionaire’s $300 Million Yacht
From the SD Union-Tribune:

Eye-catching 390-foot yacht departs San Diego
The 390-foot yacht simply known by the letter A left the 10th Avenue Maritime Terminal just after 6 p.m. for a trip up the coast to San Francisco. The vessel, which costs $500,000 to fuel, sailed through the harbor after a four day visit that left many people asking, “What’s that?” As we noted earlier, the milk-colored boat resembles a submarine with a Ramada Inn stuck on top.

The authoritative magazine Power and Motorcraft listed “A” as the seventh largest mega-yacht in its 2009 review of “super” boats. (The longest yacht, ‘Dubai,” is 531-feet long.) Motor Yacht A is owned by Andrey Melnichenko, a Russian billionaire who amassed a fortune in steel, banking and other industries after dropping out of college. (The boat is named after his wife, Alexandra Kokotovich.)
Wall Street Journal writer Robert Frank reports that the vessel cost at least $300 million to build and consumes almost 700 gallons of diesel fuel per hour, and that simply filling the fuel tank can cost $500,000. The Journal also says the boat has a 2,583-foot master suite outfitted with “bomb-proof” glass and bathroom knobs that cost $40,000.

If it were gray instead of white, Melnichenko’s yacht could be mistaken for one of the many warships in San Diego Harbor. The boat’s snubby nose and cone-like towers make it look a bit like the USS New Orleans, an amphibious warship that’s home-ported here.

In a widely-read article published in July 2008, Frank reported that there is an over-sized bed near that top of the boat that rotates on a large turntable. Apparently, some rooms have cream-colored leather walls. But it is the boat’s exterior that really set tongues wagging. Frank called it a “deliberate slap in the face to an industry known for its classic conformity.”

Check out the video of the interior: