May 072017

CUBA: For decades belonging to a religion and being anything but heterosexual was stigmatized in Communist-ruled, macho Cuba, making the Mass held by three transgender pastors in the western Cuban city of Matanzas all the more groundbreaking. Rainbow flags decorated the chapel, while the pastors, who had flown in from Brazil, Canada and the United States, wore stoles in the trans hues of light blue, pink and white and the congregation swayed to Caribbean beats. Friday was the first time a trans pastor held a Holy Communion in Cuba, highlighting how much the island nation has changed since both religious believers and homosexuals went to “correctional” labor camps in the early years after the 1959 revolution. Threatening transgender persons may land you in jail “Tonight has been a night of celebration of equality between all people, marking a new era for Cuba,” said Alexya Salvador, a Brazilian trans pastor, born Alexander, wearing a black dress with a white clerical collar and lacy sleeves she made herself. “God’s love is radically inclusive.” The Mass on Friday was the highlight of a three-day conference on transsexuality and theology organized by the Matanzas-based Cuban branch of the international Metropolitan Community Church. “This is not only a first of its kind event for Cuba, but certainly one of the very first ever to be held anywhere in the world,” said Allyson Robinson, a trans Baptist reverend from Washington. The conference took place ahead of the 10th anniversary, next weekend, of Cuba celebrating the global day [Read More…]

Apr 292017

HAVANA, CUBA: A military airplane crashed against a mountain in the north-western region of Artemisa on Saturday morning, killing all eight military personnel on board, the Cuban News Agency (ACN) reported. “The eight militaries on board, including the crew, died,” ACN reported. “A commission of the Ministry of the Revolutionary Armed Forces is investigating the causes of the accident.” The post Military plane crashes in Cuba killing eight on board appeared first on The Express Tribune. Click for detailed story

Mar 242017
PBF wants foreign coach for at least three years

KARACHI: Keeping in view the challenges ahead, the newly-elected Pakistan Boxing Federation (PBF) plans to hire a foreign coach for at least three years to build a strong base for future. Besides training the senior lot, the PBF plans to train players in youth and junior categories through the foreign coach. “Our basic purpose is to build a strong back-up pool, which the country does not have at the moment,” the PBF secretary Nasir Tung told ‘The News’ in an interview. “The foreign coach we are going to hire will also train the colts and juniors,” he added. Nasir revealed that the PBF had already discussed the matter with the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) and had contacted Cuba de Sports and Kazakhstan for the purpose. “Cuba de Sports has told us that it would send a few proposals,” Nasir said. He said that the PBF would like to have a foreign coach for at least three years. He added that if a coach was hired for less than three years, the desired results would not be achieved. He said that it would be a resource-intensive exercise to send a few boxers to Kazakhstan or any other place. Bringing a foreign coach to train 20 or more boxers on home soil is a much better option, he said. Doda Khan Bhutto-led PBF tried to hire a Cuban coach but it failed to do so because of its strained relations with the PSB. Pakistan have a few vital assignments ahead this year [Read More…]

Nov 282016

NEW YORK: US President-elect Donald Trump on Monday threatened to put an end to the thaw in ties with Cuba unless Havana makes concessions on human rights and opening up its economy. “If Cuba is unwilling to make a better deal for the Cuban people, the Cuban/American people and the US as a whole, I will terminate deal,” Trump said on Twitter. If Cuba is unwilling to make a better deal for the Cuban people, the Cuban/American people and the U.S. as a whole, I will terminate deal. — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 28, 2016 Trump’s hard line came just a day after his senior advisors promised to strike a “better deal” with the communist-ruled island after former leader Fidel Castro’s death, without stating how this might affect the historic rapprochement begun under US President Barack Obama. Cuba’s Fidel Castro in his own words While prominent Republicans have blasted Castro as a murderous tyrant since his death Friday, no one close to Trump had directly threatened to end the political opening announced in 2014 by Obama and his Cuban counterpart Raul Castro – until Trump’s Monday morning tweet. His team has said the outgoing Democratic administration made too many concessions to Havana – notably by easing the 1962 US economic embargo – without receiving enough concessions in areas like human rights, democracy and the move toward a free-market economy. “We’ve got to have a better deal,” Trump’s chief of staff, Reince Priebus, said on Fox News Sunday. Trump has only [Read More…]

Nov 252016

HAVANA: Fidel Castro, the Cuban revolutionary leader who built a communist state on the doorstep of the United States and for five decades defied US efforts to topple him, died on Friday, state-run Cuban Television said. He was 90. Castro, in poor health since an intestinal ailment nearly killed him in 2006. Fidel Castro blasts Obama’s Cuba trip The bearded Fidel Castro took power in a 1959 revolution and ruled Cuba for 49 years with a mix of charisma and iron will, creating a one-party state and becoming a central figure in the Cold War. He was demonised by the United States and its allies but admired by many leftists around the world, especially socialist revolutionaries in Latin America and Africa. Transforming Cuba from a playground for rich Americans into a symbol of resistance to Washington, Castro outlasted nine US presidents in power. He fended off a CIA-backed invasion at the Bay of Pigs in 1961 as well as countless assassination attempts. His alliance with Moscow helped trigger the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, a 13-day showdown with the United States that brought the world the closest it has been to nuclear war. Wearing green military fatigues and chomping on cigars for many of his years in power, Castro was famous for long, fist-pounding speeches filled with blistering rhetoric, often aimed at the United States. At home, he swept away capitalism and won support for bringing schools and hospitals to the poor. But he also created legions of enemies and critics, [Read More…]

Oct 272016
US abstains in UN vote against Cuba embargo

The United States on Wednesday abstained for the first time in 25 years from a vote at the United Nations calling for an end to the US embargo against Cuba. The UN General Assembly adopted the annual resolution by an overwhelming 191 votes in favor — with only the United States and Israel abstaining in the 193-nation forum. Washington’s abstention was in line with calls from President Barack Obama for the opposition-controlled Congress to lift the decades-old embargo as part of a historic normalization of relations. Obama enshrines Cuba normalisation as official US policy “The United States has always voted against this resolution. Today the United States will abstain,” US Ambassador Samantha Power told the assembly, drawing loud applause. “After 55-plus years of pursuing the path of isolation, we are choosing to take the path of engagement.” The United States restored diplomatic ties with Cuba in July 2015 and a month later re-opened its embassy in Havana. Obama made a landmark visit to the communist-ruled island in March. But restoring full trade and financial ties with Cuba would require legislative action by Congress, where the Republican majority has said human rights concerns must first be addressed. Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez welcomed the US shift as positive, but said that Washington must take concrete steps that go beyond the “vote of one delegation in this forum.” “The blockade continues to be a massive, flagrant and systematic violation of the human rights of all Cuban men and women and qualifies as [Read More…]

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