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Cuba’s Castro blasts United States on 60th anniversary of revolution

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On the 60th anniversary of Cuba’s revolution, ruling Communist Party leader Raul Castro blasted the Trump administration for returning to an outdated path of confrontation with the island nation and of intervening in Latin America.

Castro and his late, elder brother Fidel Castro led the rebel band that in 1959 overthrew a U.S.-backed dictator and installed a Communist-run country on the doorstep of the United States, setting the scene for decades of Cold War hostility.

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At the time, their revolution inspired leftist movements throughout Latin America, but the celebrations on Tuesday came as the region is shifting rightwards, coinciding with the inauguration of Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro.

Some of Cuba’s closest allies, Venezuela and Nicaragua, are mired in political crises, and U.S. President Donald Trump has tightened the decades-old U.S. embargo on the island, after his predecessor, Barack Obama, had sought to normalize relations.

“Once again, the North American government is taking on the path of confrontation with Cuba,” Castro said in the southeastern city of Santiago de Cuba where Fidel Castro proclaimed victory six decades ago.

The speech by Castro, who stepped down as president in April but remains head of the Communist Party until 2021, was part of a solemn, sunset ceremony in a cemetery where both Fidel Castro and independence hero Jose Marti are buried.

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“Increasingly, high-ranking officials of this administration are … trying to blame Cuba for all the region’s ills,” he said, adding that they stemmed instead from “ruthless neoliberal policies”.

Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, said in November that Washington would take a tougher line against Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua, calling them a “troika of tyranny.”

Clad in military fatigues and cap, the 87-year old Castro said on Tuesday that Cuba had proven throughout six decades of revolution it could not be intimidated by threats. Instead it remained open, he said, to a peaceful and respectful coexistence.

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Cuba’s true battle this year was an economic one, he added, reiterating comments made at the national assembly in late December by his successor, President Miguel Diaz-Canel, who announced increased austerity for the fourth year running in 2019 in the face of a cash crunch.

“We need first of all to reduce all non-necessary expenses and to save more,” said Castro.

A decade ago, as president, he introduced a series of reforms to liberalize and boost the centrally planned economy, yet it remains heavily state-dominated and bound in red tape.

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A series of external shocks such as a decline in aid from Venezuela and devastation wrought by hurricanes have also dented growth, which is sluggish at best.

Nonetheless, the Cuban revolution is on a secure footing thanks to the transition to a competent younger generation of leaders such as the 58-year old Diaz-Canel, Castro said.

“It is opportune to express the fact that the Cuban Communist Party decidedly backs the words and actions of Diaz-Canel since he took office,” Castro said.

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“The revolution has not aged, it remains young,” he said.

Reporting by Sarah Marsh; editing by Jonathan Oatis


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
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BUSTED: Trump-loving sheriff tried to murder deputy who caught him on tape making racist remarks

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A North Carolina Sheriff and Trump supporter reportedly plotted to murder a man who had a tape of him making racially offensive remarks, reports the Raleigh News and Observer.

Granville County Sheriff Brindell Wilkins was indicted Monday, based on a recording of Brindell advising a man on how to kill a former deputy who accused him of racist language.

According to court records, the sheriff told another person to “take care of it” and “the only way you gonna stop him is kill him.”

He instructed him to get rid of the weapon. “You ain’t got the weapon, you ain’t got nothing to go on,” Wilkins said. “The only way we find out these murder things is people talk. You can’t tell nobody, not a thing.” The conversation took place in 2014.

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Judiciary Democrats schedule Trump ‘corruption’ hearing on ’emoluments and profiting off the presidency’

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The House Judiciary Committee has scheduled a "corruption" hearing on President Donald Trump's business practices.

The committee on Tuesday, which is controlled by Democrats, posted a notification about the hearing on its website.

The hearing is titled "Presidential Corruption: Emoluments and Profiting Off the Presidency." It is scheduled for Sept. 23 at 2 pm. A witness list was not immediately available.

Trump's opponents have argued that he has violated the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution by profiting off foreign dignitaries who visit his hotels and restaurants.

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House GOP loses yet another incumbent as California’s Paul Cook announces retirement

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Another day, another retirement for House Republicans.

The Los Angeles Times reports that Rep. Paul Cook R-CA) is heading for the exits and retiring at the end of his term in 2020.

Instead of serving in Congress for another term, Cook will run for a seat on the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors, the congressman's chief of staff tells the Los Angeles Times.

Even though Democrats made major gains in California during the 2018 midterm elections, Cook's district will be difficult for the party to pick up. Cook last year won reelection with 60 percent of the vote and his opponent wasn't even a Democrat, but fellow Republican Tim Donnelly.

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