Friday, June 7, 2013

Odds and ends

  • Herald: One of Rep. Joe Garcia’s staffers is gone and another is on leave after the feds searched their homes in an election fraud probe.  During last year’s Democratic primary election they allegedly went on-line, using computers with masked IP addresses, to request absentee ballots in the names of hundreds of voters.  It is not clear from any of the articles how they planned to obtain the absentee ballots, once issued.  In the event, authorities smelled something fishy and did not act on the requests.  Garcia says he did not know of the scheme.  He is cooperating in the investigation and conducting his own investigation, and while he is angry about the scheme, he said: “I think it was a well-intentioned attempt to maximize voter turnout.”  Strange.  The primary was already marred by apparent fraud in the case of David Rivera’s straw-man candidate Justin Lamar Sternad.  Now it appears to be bipartisan.

  • Herald: The Florida law designed to punish the Brazilian firm Odebrecht for the business it does in Cuba was struck down by a federal appeals court.  Earlier note on the Florida law here.

·         Progreso Weekly interviews Jorge Pinon of the University of Texas on Cuba’s energy future.  Note his comments on ethanol, the untapped resource that could revive sugar production, creating jobs and producing by his estimate 70,000 barrels of the fuel per day.  See also Reuters on the Russian company Zarubezhneft that is abandoning a deep-water exploration project and says it will be back next year.

  • El Pais on the difficult story of the 115 Cuban dissidents who were released from jail and went to Spain (along with 650 relatives) in 2011: “big intentions, insufficient planning, too many surprises, and very few resources.”

·         Diario de Cuba: Cuba’s national baseball team will come to the United States to play a few games next month.  As for Cubans in the majors, the Dodgers called up outfielder Yasiel Puig and he’s not doing badly, hitting a grand slam last night; see also here and here.

  • JTA: Jailed USAID contractor Alan Gross settled his lawsuit with DAI, his employer, and his separate suit against the U.S. government was dismissed.  There’s more at Along the Malecon.  CNN reports that Cuba will permit a U.S. doctor to examine Gross; last September his family requested such an examination.

·         Havana Times has an English translation of an interview that the BBC’s Fernando Ravsberg did with Rene Gonzalez, one of the “Cuban Five” intelligence agents who completed his sentence in the United States and has returned to Cuba.

  • El Pais interviews economics professor Carmelo Mesa-Lago on the economic reforms in Cuba.

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