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Opinion: Trump Turns Back on Cuba

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In his perverse fixation on overturning all things Barack Obama, President Donald Trump now turns his attention to Cuba, the island located 90 miles off our shore. Reports are that the president plans to travel to Florida to announce that he will reverse Obama’s opening to Cuba, reinstate restrictions on the right of U.S. citizens to travel to Cuba and curtail business opportunities that Obama had opened up by executive order.

This is, in a word, ridiculous. The United States maintained an economic embargo on Cuba for more than 50 years. It plotted repeatedly to assassinate Fidel Castro and to overthrow his regime. It painted Cuba as a terrorist nation for its support of Nelson Mandela in the fight against apartheid. For more than five decades, a succession of U.S. presidents — cowed by the right-wing Cuban community in Florida — enforced an economic embargo even though the policy increasingly isolated the U.S. from its neighbors in the hemisphere and its allies across the world. When Obama finally went forward with a limited opening, he was doing more to end the isolation of the U.S. than of Cuba.

Now Castro, the leader of Cuba’s revolution, is dead. His brother Raul has announced he will leave office next year. The Soviet Union is no more; the Cold War is over. A new generation is coming to power in Cuba and a new generation of Cuban-Americans is rising in Florida. The vast majority of Americans and the vast majority of Cuban-Americans support free travel to Cubans.

So why would Trump want to revive the failed policies of the past? The reasons range from the petty to the perverse. Trump’s hatred of Obama is apparent. From Obamacare to climate policy to Cuba, he seems intent on overturning whatever Obama did — no matter how great the cost to the American people.

In the campaign, Trump pledged in Florida to overturn Obama’s opening. Right-wing Cuban-American legislators — Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey and Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida — have lobbied Trump hard to revive the travel ban and embargo. According to the New York Times, Diaz-Balart exacted a promise from Trump as a price for his vote in favor of Trumpcare. He signed off on depriving 23 million Americans of health care coverage in order to tighten the screws on Cuba.

Obama’s policy of engagement, however halting, has already shown results. Engage Cuba, a U.S. business lobby group, published an economic impact analysis on the costs of reversing Obama’s policy. It put the cost at as much as $3.5 billion in lost revenues and 10,000 jobs lost in the travel industry over the next four years. Commercial contracts that will create $1.1 billion worth of U.S. exports to Cuba in the next five years would be broken, costing more than 1,000 jobs a year.

Once more the right of Americans to travel would be sacrificed, in the name of what? Petulance? Perversity? Undying hatred? The Trump administration has made it clear that in its America First foreign policy, America’s economic and security concerns will not be sacrificed in the name of human rights. But it rationalizes its reversion in Cuba on the grounds of defending human rights and spreading democracy. This is at best what former Obama adviser Ben Rhodes called a “tragic irony,” given the Trump administration’s “complete lack of concern for human rights around the world.”

Surely, after more than five decades we have learned that Cubans, proud of their revolution and their independence, will resist economic or military coercion. One would think that Trump, who trumpets his business background, would understand that open relations with Cuba — trade, travel, human and cultural exchange — will have far more impact in generating pressure for change than a reversion to the failed embargo.

Under Castro, Cuban education and health care became the envy of Latin America. An educated generation now rises to power yearning for more. The U.S. should engage them, not seek to isolate them.

Op-Ed

Opinion: Governor Newsom Has More Than Proven He’s Worthy of Office

When Newsom became lieutenant governor (2011-2019), that tenure allowed him to acquire on-the-job-training, which, in today’s electoral climate seems to be a forgotten asset. 

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Gov. Gavin Newsom. Photo by Scott Varley/MediaNews Group/Daily Breeze via Getty Images.

It seems more than 1 million Californians are upset.  They are mad at Gov. Gavin Newsom, and – in their minds- that is justification for this very expensive recall election.

I, too, was upset with Newsom long before he became the Golden State’s top leader.  It was circa 2010, the period when Newsom initially sought the gubernatorial post.  I so wanted to participate in that campaign, but my excitement was short-lived.  In deference to Jerry Brown’s candidacy Newsom withdrew, and his decision upset me.  Why, you ask? I had longed to support a gubernatorial candidate that displayed capacity, commitment, compassion, competence and, might as well say it, a degree of coolness.

When Newsom became lieutenant governor (2011-2019), that tenure allowed him to acquire on-the-job-training, which, in today’s electoral climate seems to be a forgotten asset.

The lessons I gleaned from observing the lieutenant governor would alleviate any ire.  Even prior to holding that position, as mayor of San Francisco from 2004-2011, Newsom weathered controversies, again on-the-job-training. However, all told, nothing like the ones contrived by today’s dissenting voices that have amassed this recall election with some 40-plus contenders.  I’ve stopped trying to make sense of it; I just voted my reconstituted anger, “NO” on the recall.

My mind won’t let go of questions I would love to get answers on from the contenders:

  • Describe your experience balancing budgets of, let’s say, more than $200 billion?
  • What accomplishments did you achieve while serving in elected office?
  • Where were you and how did you show up during the raging firestorms of the past and present?
  • What are your commitments and plans to mitigate homelessness in California?
  • What allocations did you facilitate for small businesses to help them during this COVID-19 pandemic?
  • Are you vaccinated against COVID-19? Have you encouraged others to get vaccinated?

Of course, there are many more questions I’d love to get answers to but, I am busy organizing and planning because, when the smoke clears and the drought ends, I want a clear conscious and an experienced leader.

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Activism

East Oakland Community Clean-up

The office of Councilmember Treva Reid invites you to…

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Oakland Clean Up Flyer

The Oakland Post’s coverage of local news in Alameda County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.

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Politics

After Winning Recall Election, Newsom Says “Let’s Get Back to Work”

According to preliminary results, just under 65% of the voters have said “no” to recalling Newsom in the special election that is estimated to have cost California taxpayers $276 million.

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Governor Gavin Newsom Speaking, Photo courtesy of California Black Media

It looks like Gov. Gavin Newsom will remain in the office he won in 2018 after he secured an insurmountable lead in votes counted so far in Tuesday’s gubernatorial recall election.

Several media outlets projected shortly before midnight Tuesday that the attempt to remove Newsom from office failed.

About an hour after thanking Californians for keeping him in office, Newsom tweeted, “Now, let’s get back to work.”

Larry Elder, a conservative Republican Los Angeles-based talk show host, who was the leading candidate vying to remove Newsom from office conceded the race. A total of 46 candidates were on the ballot to replace Newsom.

“Let’s be gracious in defeat,” Elder said after the results started pouring in and it was obvious he had no chance of winning.  “We may have lost the battle, but we are going to win the war.”

According to preliminary results, just under 65% of the voters have said “no” to recalling Newsom in the special election that is estimated to have cost California taxpayers $276 million.

With about 67% of all votes counted on September 14, only a little over 35% voted ‘yes’ on the recall.

Reactions on social media included the following:

Kevin Mullin (D-San Mateo), Assembly Speaker Pro Tem tweeted, “A $276 million waste just to reaffirm 2018’s results with an election coming in 2022. The CA recall process must be reformed including elevating the Lt. Guv in the event of a recall. But to avoid partisan power grabs the Governor/LG should be a ticket of the same party (like NY).”

Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis wrote, “Thank you California for recognizing that @GavinNewsom is exactly where he needs to be, in the Governor’s office! His commitment to the people of California is unwavering and I look forward to his continued leadership of our great state!”

Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA 37) tweeted, “Proud of our governor. Proud of our people. Proud of California.”

Newsom told supporters, although Californians voted “no” to the recall, he wants to focus on all the things they were saying ‘yes’ to by their votes.

“‘No’ is not the only thing that was expressed tonight,” Newsom said. “I want to focus on what we said ‘yes’ to as a state. We said ‘yes’ to science. We said ‘yes’ to vaccines. We said ‘yes’ to ending this pandemic. We said ‘yes’ to people’s right to vote without fear of fake fraud or voter suppression.”

The gubernatorial recall was the fifth statewide vote Dr. Shirley Weber has overseen since she was appointed Secretary of State on January 19. Throughout the process, Weber, a former assemblymember who represented the 79th District in San Diego County, says she worked hard to make sure that voter fraud or the talk of fraud of would not interfere in the results of this election.

“We worked hard to secure our elections. There’s no evidence of fraud or miscounting,” Weber said on CNN. “As Secretary of State, we’ve been even-handed in how we’ve handled every issue. I was sued by the governor as well as by others because of some of the decisions we made that were fair and just.”

Weber’s office has 30 days to certify the recall election once all of the votes have been counted. If there are any discrepancies, Weber said those issues will be addressed.

“I like to say to those that continue to challenge this issue of fairness and so forth, I always say, ‘where’s the evidence?’” Weber said. “We are willing to accept the evidence as it is not just to simply (claim) open-ended allegations of fraud and deceptions. Those things are easy to say. But we have yet to get evidence of fraud and deception.”

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