Fidel Castro: Nuclear War is Near

(Reuters) – Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro, who has lived in seclusion since falling ill four years ago, will appear on Cuban television and radio on Monday evening to discuss his theory that the world is on the verge of nuclear war, the Communist Party newspaper Granma said in its Monday online edition.

The appearance will mark the second time in less than a week that the suddenly resurgent 83-year-old has made a public appearance, after staying out of view, except in occasional photographs and videos, since undergoing emergency intestinal surgery in July 2006.

Last Wednesday, he made a visit to a Havana scientific center that was disclosed in a blog on Saturday.

Castro writes opinion columns, or “Reflections,” for Cuba’s state-run media that in recent weeks have focused on his prediction that nuclear war will soon break out, sparked by a conflict between the United States and Iran over international sanctions against Iran’s nuclear activities.

“The empire is at the point of committing a terrible error that nobody can stop. It advances inexorably toward a sinister fate,” he wrote on July 5.

The “empire” is how Castro usually refers to the United States, his bitter foe from the time he took power in Cuba in a 1959 revolution.

In a column published on Sunday night, Castro said the “principal purpose” of his writings has been to “warn international public opinion of what was occurring.”

He said he has reached his dire conclusion based in part on “observing what happened, as the political leader that I was during many years, confronting the empire, its blockades and its unspeakable crimes.”

The columns have attracted little attention internationally and caused little reaction in Cuba, but Castro promised to continue his lonely fight to warn the world of the coming disaster.

“I don’t hesitate in running risks of compromising my modest moral authority,” he wrote on Sunday. “I will continue writing ‘Reflections’ about the topic.”

Castro ruled Cuba for 49 years before provisionally ceding power to younger brother Raul Castro following his 2006 surgery.

Citing age and infirmity, he officially resigned in February 2008 and Raul Castro, now 79, was elected president by the National Assembly.

Fidel Castro’s reappearance comes as Cuba is preparing to release 52 political prisoners, all jailed in a crackdown on the opposition in 2003 while he was still in power.

On the new culture war over free enterprise

By: Arthur Brooks

First of a three-part series. Tuesday: American fairness means equality of opportunity, not income. Wednesday: Earned success is the secret to human happiness.

America faces a new culture war. This is not a fight over guns, abortions, religion or gays. Nor is it about Republicans versus Democrats. Rather, it is a struggle between two competing visions of America’s future.

In one, America will continue to be a unique and exceptional nation organized around the principles of free enterprise. In the other, America will move toward European-style statism grounded in expanding bureaucracies, increasing income redistribution, and government-controlled corporations.

“The Battle” presents the evidence that free enterprise is an expression of the core values of a large majority of Americans. It brings the most life satisfaction to the most people. Personal liberty, individual opportunity and entrepreneurship are the explanation for our nation’s past success and the promise of greater things to come.

But the unprecedented economic crisis has introduced panic to our nation. Panic distorts our values and has given the minority who support big government a pretext to introduce sweeping change that threatens the very core of America’s national history, culture and character.

Many Americans have forgotten the evils of Soviet socialism and the disasters of the Great Society’s welfare state programs in this country. The forces of statism are back with a vengeance.

They have the full arsenal of government money and power, they are working for the hearts of a whole generation of younger Americans, and they are using our economic insecurity to introduce breathtaking increases in state power.

There is a very real threat before us that our great nation may be transformed forever. One can only hope that this threat will clear our thinking enough to bring forth leaders with our principles at heart and the ideas to match.

If principle triumphs over the mere quest for political power, perhaps the other core principles of the free-enterprise movement will emerge anew. And America will be the stronger for it.

When it comes to attitudes about free enterprise, there are stark differences between Americans and our cousins across the Atlantic. According to a 2006 Pew Research Center Global Attitudes study, Europeans are half as likely as Americans to attribute success in life to their own efforts.

They are far less likely to say that competition is a positive force for the country. And they value less the merits of personal industry: Even the notoriously industrious Germans are only one-third as likely as Americans (20 percent compared to 60 percent) to believe that children should be instructed in the value of hard work.

Free enterprise lies at the very core of America’s national history, culture and character. Most of us believe that free enterprise is the best system for America. It’s part of the cultural mainstream — as American as apple pie.

Whether we ask people their views about free markets, the importance of private business, or the proper role of government, a very large majority express support for free enterprise over statism and redistribution.

No matter how the question is posed, less than 30 percent of Americans say they believe we would be better off without free enterprise at the core of our system.

But the sad truth is that the 30 percent coalition did not start governing this country with the advent of Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. They’ve been in charge for years.

Republicans, who once counted spending discipline as a core value, have been as responsible as Democrats for the growth in government in recent years. The only difference is that the Democrats in office today are true believers in the values of the 30 percent coalition.

Chicago: Still Anti-Law Abiding Citizen, Still Pro-Criminal

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley speaks during a news conference July 1 in Chicago. (AP Photo)

The Chicago government is taking another shot at enforcing sweeping handgun restrictions, bringing a new law into effect Monday meant to comply with the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling last month while still regulating firearms purchases.

The new ordinance was drafted in response to the Supreme Court ruling that extended gun rights across all 50 states and effectively struck down the city’s decades-old handgun ban. City leaders described the ordinance as necessary to prevent gun violence from breaking out across Chicago.

Though the new law has already been challenged in two federal lawsuits, it imposes a number of tough restrictions on gun ownership.

Among them, the policy would:

— Limit each person in each home to one “assembled and operable” firearm.

— Restrict residents from having firearms outside their home, even on their porch or in their backyard.

— Mandate training program attendance.

— Prohibit the sale of firearms inside city limits.

Mayor Richard Daley called the measure a “reasonable and responsible ordinance” in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling.

“When the wrong people have access to guns — whoever they are — whether they’re gang bangers and drug dealers or abusive parents or sons or daughters, needless violence is more likely to happen, whether it’s on our streets or in our homes,” he said in a written statement.

But the new policy could represent the next phase of the gun rights legal battle, which so far has resulted in two big victories for the gun lobby — first the 2008 high court decision permitting Washington, D.C., residents to keep guns at home and then the decision last month.

One lawsuit was filed by four city residents and a gun rights group. According to MyFoxChicago, the four residents have multiple guns kept outside the city but want to keep more than one inside Chicago. The Illinois Association of Firearms Retailers, the other plaintiff in the suit, wants its members to be able to sell guns and maintain shooting ranges inside Chicago limits.

A separate suit was filed by a man who wants to open a gun store inside the city.

The National Rifle Association is supporting the court challenge, claiming the city’s new gun law violates the high court’s ruling.

“An individual right is no right at all if individuals can’t access it,” NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said in a written statement.

An overview by The Second Amendment Foundation praised the city for acknowledging with the legislation that “its ability to regulate is not unlimited,” but called several provisions into question, including the ban on gun sales.

The NRA complained that it would be “impossible” for residents to receive range training since shooting ranges inside Chicago would be outlawed.

Chris Lewis: Platform for Wicomico County Council At Large

Platform

My platform is pretty basic and it’s one you have been hearing from new Conservative candidates running for the first time all across the country. I believe the goals and mindset of all levels of government must be taken back to one of representation and service to the legal citizens of this great country.

Saying government is too big is an understatement. The public sector keeps growing while the private sector continues to shrink. So where is the money coming from to the pay the public sector salaries, especially when all levels of government are so reluctant to cut spending? Basically our bureaucracy is just too plain big and is mostly a good old boy network. We are top heavy with multiple people doing the same job and creating a huge redundancy. This is not true of all departments in Wicomico County. We need to evaluate them all individually and cut the wasteful spending of our tax dollars. Of course, the County Executive should have done this years ago. However, courage and politics rarely mix.

Even without the massive tax increases coming down the pike on January 1, 2011, we are already taxed too much at the state, federal and local levels. An easy way to create growth and prosperity is to lower taxes. I am confused why it is so hard for many politicians to understand the fact people want to keep the money they earn. Lower taxes allow small businesses to grow and to hire more people. Lower taxes also has a history of bringing in more tax money to the government. Raising taxes and fees ends up hurting everyone.

The basic concept is to take government out of the hands of politicians and put it back into the hands of the people of this county and this country. Instead of voting for the same people over again and things continuing to get worse, it is time to vote for the person who wants to make things better (note I did not say easier) and not an establishment politician.

American Dies in Uganda Blasts as Terrorists Kill 74 World Cup Watchers

Nate Henn, 25, was killed in Uganda when simultaneous explosions tore through crowds watching the World Cup final at a rugby club and an Ethiopian restaurant.

An American aid worker was killed and six members of a Pennsylvania church group seriously wounded as twin bombers tore through crowds watching the World Cup final at a party in Uganda’s capital Monday, killing at least 74 people.

Nate Henn, a Wilmington, De., native who was working with Uganda’s child soldiers, died in the blast in Kampala Monday while watching the soccer match at an outdoor rugby field.

Dozens were killed at the rugby club, where revelers had gathered to watch the final on a large TV screen set up outside. Well over a dozen more people died in a separate blast at an Ethiopian restaurant in Kampala.

Al-Shabab, an Al Qaeda-linked terrorist militia based in Somalia, is suspected in the bombings, which came just two days after one of the militant group’s commanders called for attacks in Uganda and Burundi.

Henn, 25, was remembered as a tireless and devoted activist by the California-based aid group Invisible Children, which sponsored his work in Uganda.

An Al Qaeda-linked Somali militant group suspected in twin bombings in Uganda’s capital that killed 64 people watching the World Cup final endorsed the attacks on Monday but stopped short of claiming responsibility, as Uganda’s president vowed to hunt down those responsible.

“From traveling the United States without pay advocating for the freedom of abducted child soldiers … to raising thousands of dollars to put war-affected Ugandan students in school, Nate lived a life that demanded explanation,” the group said in a statement on its website.

“He sacrificed his comfort to live in the humble service of God and of a better world, and his is a life to be emulated.”

Six missionaries from the Christ United Methodist Church in Selingsgrove, Pa., were injured in the blast: Lori Ssebulime, Emily and Joanne Kerstetter, Kris Sledge, and Pam and Thomas Kramer.

Five missionaries had stayed behind in Uganda to complete their mission work with with Ssebulime, who is married to a Ugandan, as their friends returned home just days ago.

The group arrived at the Ethiopian restaurant early to get good seats for the game, said Ssebulime, who told the AP that three Ugandans in the group were killed in the blast and described the scene of the attacks.

“Emily was rolling around in a pool of blood screaming,” said Ssebulime, who has helped bring in U.S. church groups since 2004. “Five minutes before it went off, Emily said she was going to cry so hard because she didn’t want to leave. She wanted to stay the rest of the summer here.”

Blood and pieces of flesh littered the floor among overturned chairs at the scenes of the blasts, which went off as people watched the game between Spain and the Netherlands.

“We were enjoying ourselves when a very noisy blast took place,” said Andrew Oketa, one of the hospitalized survivors. “I fell down and became unconscious. When I regained, I realized that I was in a hospital bed with a deep wound on my head.”

Five of the six American missionaries have been hospitalized, though none have sustained life-threatening injuries, representatives of their church told Fox News. Two are being evacuated to Kenya or South Africa for further treatment.

The attack would mark the first time al-Shabab has reached out beyond the borders of Somalia, where the militia has seized control of large swathes of territory and established a strict and brutal form of Islamic law in its wake.

Sheik Yusuf Sheik Issa, an al-Shabab commander, told The Associated Press early Monday that he was happy with the attacks in Uganda but refused to confirm or deny that al-Shabab was responsible.

“Uganda is one of our enemies. Whatever makes them cry, makes us happy. May Allah’s anger be upon those who are against us,” Sheik said.

Ugandan government spokesman Fred Opolot said Monday there were indications that two suicide bombers took part in the late Sunday attacks, which left dozens more wounded.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned the attack in a statement issued late Sunday night, offering condolences to victims of the attack and their families.

“At this tragic moment, the United States stands with Uganda. We have a long-standing, close friendship with the people and government of Uganda and will work with them to bring the perpetrators of this crime to justice,” she said.

The attacks appeared to represent a dangerous step forward by al-Shabab, analysts said, and could mean that other East African countries working to support the Somali government will face attacks.

“Al-Shabab has used suicide bombers in the past and shown no concern about civilian casualties in its attacks,” said David Shinn, a former U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia and a professor at George Washington University. “Some elements of al-Shabab have also prohibited the showing of television, including the World Cup, in Somalia.”

At a wrap-up news briefing Monday in South Africa, FIFA President Sepp Blatter denounced the violence against fans watching the game.

“Can you link it to the World Cup? I don’t know… Whatever happened, linked or not linked, it is something that we all should condemn,” he said.

Florence Naiga, 32, a mother of three children, said her husband had gone to watch the final at the rugby club.

“He did not come back. I learnt about the bomb blasts in the morning. When I went to police they told me he was among the dead,” she said.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni toured the blast sites Monday and said that the terrorists behind the bombings should fight soldiers, not “people who are just enjoying themselves.”

“We shall go for them wherever they are coming from,” Museveni said. “We will look for them and get them as we always do.”

Ugandan army spokesman Felix Kulayigye said it was too early to speculate about any military response to the attacks.

Somalia’s president also condemned the blasts and described the attack as “barbaric.”

Al-Shabab, which wants to overthrow Somalia’s weak, U.N.-backed government, is known to have links with Al Qaeda. Al-Shabab also counts militant veterans from the Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan conflicts among its ranks. Their fighters also include young men recruited from the Somali communities in the United States.

Ethiopia, which fought two wars with Somalia, is a longtime enemy of al-Shabab and other Somali militants who accuse their neighbor of meddling in Somali affairs. Ethiopia had troops in Somalia between December 2006 and January 2009 to back Somalia’s fragile government against the Islamic insurgency.

In addition to Uganda’s troops in Mogadishu, Uganda also hosts Somali soldiers trained in U.S. and European-backed programs.

President Obama was “deeply saddened by the loss of life resulting from these deplorable and cowardly attacks,” White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said.

Officials said the Sunday attacks will not affect the African Union summit being held in Uganda from July 19-27. Many African leaders are expected to attend.

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