Alan Gross, the American political prisoner held by the Communist Cuban regime for five years, has been released. You may recall my prior article on Cuba’s American hostage.

In exchange for his release, the U.S. government released three of the remaining Cuban spies convicted in 2001 on 26 federal charges, including conspiracy to commit espionage, conspiracy to commit murder, and acting as agents of a foreign government.

But that is not all:
President Barack Obama will make a televised statement today at noon, simultaneous with Cuban dictator Raul Castro,

Mr. Obama has long said American policy toward Cuba has failed to achieve the ends it was intended to achieve and over the years he has made modest changes to restrictions on travel and contact. But it has frustrated him that he has not been able to make more significant changes until now.

The Washington Post reports (emphasis added),

Cuba has freed American contractor Alan Gross after five years in custody as part of a prisoner swap that could herald sweeping changes in U.S. policies toward the island after decades of sanctions, a senior Obama administration official and news reports said.

As part the rapprochement, U.S. and Cuba will start talks to normalize diplomatic relations, which could include opening an American embassy in Havana in the coming months, the Associated Press reports, citing U.S. officials.

Political repression in Cuba has quadrupled since 2010 — and 2014 isn’t over yet.

Val Prieto:

This is a major setback for the opposition and dissident movements in Cuba. The Obama administration, by making this “deal”, has confirmed that they are OK with the repression, brutality, incarceration, and murder the castro regime foists upon the opposition. And I will once again say what I have been saying since day one of this farce of a presidential administration, for the record: faced with the fact that he is, by far, the worst President this nation has ever seen, and with no true positive legacy, Obama is relying on the low hanging fruit of the Cuban embargo to placate the left. Look for President Executive Action to undermine codified US Cuba policy.

Get ready. This is going to be one hell of a day.

Obama is trying to cement his legacy. Human rights be damned.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics, news, and culture at Fausta’s Blog.

Note: This is a rant. Proceed accordingly.

Back in my much younger, stupider days, I sent Greenpeace a check for $25 of my hard-earned bucks. That was a couple of decades ago.

Yes, I recycle; yes, I don’t waste water or electricity; yes, I owned a house in a lot that had two dozen trees (which probably more than made up for whatever fumes the house may have generated), and their leaves and branches were mulched. So much for being “green.”

Vandalism is a crime.

Some vandalism is a misdemeanor. Toilet-paper a neighbor’s tree on mischief night, get caught, and you’ll find out what the word means.

Greenpeace, however, has engaged in felonies for the sake of publicity for years.

No, I don’t buy their “sustainability”, “renewability” excuses.

Greenpeace, in these days of moral equivalence, through their ends-justify-our-means methods, are descending to the levels of the Taliban.

To wit:
Back in 2001, the Taliban destroyed two ancient Buddhas at Bamiyan in Afghanistan, a World Heritage Site. The statues were over 1,500 years old:

Despite world-wide condemnation, the Taliban lined the statues with explosives and blew them up in the spring of 2001 because they considered them idols, and thus un-Islamic.

Fast-forward to this week in Peru, where Greenpeace vandals decided to post some graffiti at the Nazca Lines World Heritage Site,

The Nazca lines are huge figures depicting living creatures, stylised plants and imaginary figures scratched on the surface of the ground between 1,500 and 2,000 years ago. They are believed to have had ritual functions related to astronomy.

Take a look:

The letters are made of some kind of yellow material and were carried there on foot, and held down by rocks,

The damage caused by Greenpeace’s vandalism is inestimable,

The ground around the site is so sensitive and so sacred that Peru has even forbidden presidents and top officials to walk where the Greenpeace activists went. Peru’s Deputy Culture Ministertold the BBC: “You walk there, and the footprint is going to last hundreds or thousands of years.” Tourists generally get to see the site from the air, or, on rare occasions, are equipped with special foot gear.

“They are absolutely fragile. They are black rocks on a white background. You walk there and the footprint is going to last hundreds or thousands of years,” said the minister. “And the line that they have destroyed is the most visible and most recognized of all.”

Mind you, anyone even thinking of going to the Nazca site knows you can’t walk on it. Greenpeace willfully engaged in inflicting irreparable damage. In their breathtaking arrogance to say “the future is renewable”, they can’t see that the past is not.

What did Peru and mankind do to deserve this, in Greenpeace’s eyes?

The message was intended for delegates from 190 countries at the UN climate talks being held in Lima.

Sue Greenpeace out of business in countries where you can actually enforce the judgement; ban their activites as terrorism; identify the perpetrators and put them in jail.

Enough. It’s time for change: put Greenpeace out of business.

Before Greenpeace:

After Greenpeace:

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics, news, and culture at Fausta’s Blog.

While the Senate releases a CIA report without talking to the CIA directors, Jonathan Gruber refuses to say how much government money he received, and John Kerry raises $5billion for Gaza, the U.S. released six Gitmo detainees to Uruguay.

In a country where polls show a majority of people oppose the transfer of the prisoners, and as other Latin American countries declined, lame-duck president José Mujica,

a former guerrilla who was imprisoned for 14 years—said that while he had long criticized the U.S. for its “interventions and abuses,” he couldn’t decline a request by Mr. Obama to accept the men.

Mujica is also allowing them to travel in and out of Uruguay.

It’s not clear what passports from what countries would the six use.

Who are the released men?

Four were members of the “Syrian Group;” all are connected to Abu Zubaydah; only one was deemed as “medium risk,” the other five were “high risk.”

Thomas Joscelyn writes that 6 Guantanamo detainees transferred to Uruguay were part of al Qaeda’s network, files allege

Interestingly, the intelligence contained in JTF-GTMO’s files linked all six transferred detainees to Abu Zubaydah, who has been the subject of much controversy. Zubaydah was captured in 2002 and subjected to harsh interrogation techniques. Some have claimed that Zubaydah was not really a senior al Qaeda leader at the time of his capture, but this argument is contradicted by dozens of pieces of intelligence contained in the JTF-GTMO files, among other evidence.

The dossiers compiled by the US government for each of the six transferred detainees include multiple pieces of evidence pointing to their ties to both Abu Zubaydah and al Qaeda. Four of the former detainees were members of the so-called “Syrian Group,” which was based at a guesthouse funded by Zubaydah. A fifth detainee was allegedly part of Zubaydah’s “Martyrs Brigade,” which sought to attack US forces in 2002. And the sixth was identified by Zubaydah as a trainee at the Khaldan camp, which was run by Zubaydah and his comrade in arms, Ibn Sheikh al Libi.

Joscelyn talked about the six in John Batchelor’s show, which you can listen here.

In addition to being able to fly in and out of the country, the six terrorists can also bring their families to Uruguay.

Uruguay’s defense minister, Eleuterio Fernández Huidobro, is Polyanna of the week, expecting the six to “live in peace, sit in the stadium grandstand and become fans of some soccer team.”

Considering their background, that’s high hopes indeed.

Elsewhere in Latin America, Colombia’s FARC is using al-Qaeda for European drug trade.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics, news, and culture at Fausta’s Blog.

[Post corrected]

UNASUR, the Union of South American Nations, is holding its summit this week in Ecuador. The envoys or the heads of state of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Guayana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela are in attendance.

Latin American countries, particularly the socialist countries, hold summits frequently throughout the year, so this is not unique. What’s making this particular one interesting is this: the possibility of an agreement on cooperation between Russia and UNASUR:

[Russian Ambassador to Ecuador Yan] Burlyai also noted that the Russian delegation will convey a message from President Vladimir Putin to Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa.

Burlyai explained that Russia’s interests coincide with UNASUR’s in the development of a politically and economically multipolar world, and that Russian engineering, technical knowhow, and equipment may be useful for regional development projects in areas such as railway construction and energy generation facilities. He noted that “for many decades,” South America was “mainly oriented at Western countries in economic cooperation…Now it is quite useful for them to have the alternative [of using] Russian companies such as Russian Railways, Gazprom and Rosneft.” Russia, on the other hand, stands to benefit from increased economic and trade cooperation with the 12-nation bloc, with its combined population of 400 million people and a $4 trillion economy. Latin America has already assisted Russia in its efforts toward trade diversification following the introduction of sanctions and countersanctions over the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine.

The UNASUR summit, with the participation of Russian Foreign Ministry officials, follows Putin’s annual State of the Nation address to the country’s Federal Assembly on Thursday, where he stressed the importance of Russia’s increasing economic cooperation with Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

“Russian Railways, Gazprom and Rosneft,” along with long-range bombers conducting regular patrol missions from the Arctic Ocean to the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico and military bases in Nicaragua (not a member of UNASUR), that is.

In the short term, Putin avoids sanctions. In the longer term, is the sky the limit, now that the Obama administration declared dead the Monroe Doctrine?

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics, news, and culture at Fausta’s Blog.

Depending on the estimate, Venezuela needs to sell its oil between $150-$200/barrel. Estimate, because

The precise figure is difficult to determine, because Venezuela doesn’t disclose as much economic data as other countries do.

To say “Venezuela doesn’t disclose as much economic data as other countries do” is an understatement; Venezuela has not submitted economic data to the IMF for over 10 years.

What can be ascertained is that the Venezuelan economy is nealy entirely dependent on oil exports. In 1999, oil accounted for 80% of all exports. Back then the Annual Average Domestic Crude Oil Price (AADCOP) was $16.56. By last year, the number had risen to 95% at an AADCOP of $91.17.

Today’s opening oil price was $66.88. Venezuela’s oil, heavy and of poor quality, trades for much less. Some estimate (again!) that Venezuela gets as little as $24/barrel at this point,

As of yesterday, I discovered that Venezuela is selling its crude oil for $24 per barrel and struggling to deliver with it dilapidated production, processing, pipeline and terminal facilities. No one is interested in any contracts except at such a low price due inability to deliver.

What does that have to do with the U.S., you may ask?

For one,

While U.S. imports of primarily crude oil from Venezuela have been on the decline, U.S. exports of petroleum products to Venezuela have increased largely because of Venezuela’s tight finances that leave it unable to invest and maintain its own domestic refineries. A decade ago, the United States exported 7,000 barrels per day to Venezuela. In 2013, the United States sent Venezuela 84,000 barrels per day of petroleum products, primarily methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE), intended for blending in gasoline, motor gasoline, and distillate fuel oil.

Additionally, even when the Obama administration declared the Monroe Doctrine dead, the hemisphere’s politics and economies affect the U.S. – just look at the illegal immigration flood from countries with ruinous policies.

Venezuela, however, is not only a country with ruinous policies; it’s a country ruled by an elite intimately connected and committed to spreading a Marxist revolution which it funds through oil proceeds, and is now propping the Communist regime in Cuba to the tune of 100,000 barrels of oil per day. It also sends oil to a dozen countries in the Caribbean and Latin America at a discounted price, plus it essentially gives Venezuelan drivers free gasoline at a nominal 5 cents/gallon.

So, of course Venezuela is in a bind. So much so, it apparently sold Goldman Sachs the debt that the Dominican Republic has with Venezuela in what may be “the new normal” for old shell games, since it’s possible that the DR may be the end buyer. Jamaica is looking at a similar deal.

Yesterday Venezuelan dictator Maduro

authorized a 20% cut in government spending and plans to modify the country’s complicated foreign-exchange system, opening the door to a possible devaluation.

Clearly, the country’s economy is collapsing as the oil prices drop, and Cuba, dependent on Venezuela, will follow.

Looking at Cuba, will this lead to another Mariel exodus? Would Obama use this as a pretext to end the embargo with Cuba?

Looking at Venezuela, would the ruling elite and the military attempt to remain in power by relying more heavily on the drug trade? Would rioting and looting lead to further oppression? Since Iran and Russia are in the same oil boat, what role will China play? Giving the Chinese an oil field seems out of the question – for now

The next option, which is where Venezuelans think there is some value, is that The Government will simply give the Chinese an oil field in exchange for money. This, in fact, has been tried before, except that Chávez, in his minimal wisdom, created new laws that restrict the control of the foreign partners over the joint ventures. Thus, PDVSA has to contribute part of the money to the JV’s, unless the partner lends the money to PDVSA. Except that the Chinese have not been very amenable to this. They want “joint” to mean joint, not I put up all the money and you control. Some companies have accepted this, but not the Chinese, who, in fact did not participate in one of the Carabobo oil fields, precisely because they were told they had to put up all the money

On the bright side, the changing economic landscape may bring Japan, which

is looking to Latin America as a potential source of energy and other natural resources, and it is eager to import liquified natural gas from the U.S. via an expanded Panama Canal.

Will any of this bring opportunities for democracy and trade in the hemisphere? More importantly, is the U.S. government prepared to recognize them?

Times like this require strong leadership in foreign policy, which is exactly what the U.S. lacks now.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American news, politics and culture at Fausta’s Blog.

Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States:

“If you look at the history of immigration in this country, each successive wave there have been periods where the folks who were already here have said, ‘Well I don’t want those folks,'” he said. “Even though the only people who have the right to say that are some Native Americans.”

Video here (around 10:05)

Let’s look at this:

The only people who have the right to say that
The Constitution says (emphasis added),

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Indeed, all Americans have the inalienable right to free speech.


not alienable; not transferable to another or capable of being repudiated:

are some Native Americans

And who would be the one determining which Native Americans have the right to?

This is the kind of rhetoric we get from a president whose idea of governing is to bypass Congress.

And I use the word rhetoric advisedly,

(in classical oratory) the art of influencing the thought and conduct of an audience.

While the speech could not be thought of as classical oratory, you could say that the statement “Even though the only people who have the right to say that are some Native Americans,” qualifies as a classic.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics at Fausta’s Blog.

Thanksgiving Day is my favorite holiday of the year. As my friend Perla puts it, it’s a holiday everyone celebrates, no matter their religion. I would add to that, it is a holiday one can celebrate in ways small – alone, when circumstances demand, or big – in public or in private.

I also like Thanksgiving Day for its Americanness: The most prosperous, and I may add, blessed, nation in the history of mankind came up with a day of gratitude, closely connected to the nation’s origins.

Indeed, we have much to thank for; the debate on immigration shows that millions of people from around the world see and want to partake in our blessings. But let’s leave that debate aside for now.

My most favorite quote is from Ralph Waldo Emerson, an American,

I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and the new.

Here’s what this sentence means to me:

  • I awoke this morning: I am conscious, in this new day
  • with devout thanksgiving: And I give thanks to God, the Creator who blesses us every day
  • for my friends,: For every person who honors me with their friendship, empathy, and support, including my family
  • the old: Friends I have had for a lifetime, or for many years, and also for friends young and old
  • and the new.: Because friendship is a garden that blooms throughout our lives, blessing us daily.

Apple pie is my favorite Thanksgiving Day dessert. Here’s my recipe:

IMG_0152Apple and pecan pie:
The day before: marinade 1/2 cup of raisins in a glass dish and add enough bourbon to cover the raisins. Cover the dish and set aside overnight (no need to refrigerate).

The day you’re serving the pie:
Heat oven to 400F.

In a very large bowl, mix:
8 large apples, peeled and cored, and cut into large (1/4″ thick) pieces
(You might want to caramelize the apples slightly, by sautéing in butter and a dash of freshly-grated nutmeg)
the raisins marinated in bourbon
1 tbs cinnamon sprinkled lightly as you add the apples
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 cup pecan pieces. You can also use chopped walnuts.
Mix all ingredients until well coated.

Line a deep pie dish with one Pillsbury pie crust (or you can make your own crust).

Pour the apples, raisins and pecans into the pie plate. Cut 1/4 lb (one bar) of refrigerated butter into chunks and dot the apples with the butter. Please use butter. Cover the apples with the other pie crust, seal the edges and perforate the top with a fork.

If you prefer your pie with no raisins or pecans, omit them and don’t add vanilla extract.

Bake at 400F for 45 minutes.

Serve warm with Vermont cheddar cheese, or with Edy’s No Sugar Added vanilla ice cream. I prefer the cheddar.

Note: While I add no sugar, if you use sweet apples the pie will be sweet. Bear that in mind if you must watch your blood sugars.
Additionally, this is not a low calorie dessert.


A happy Thanksgiving Day to all!

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics, news, and culture at Fausta’s Blog. She thanks Pete for the opportunity to blog here.

I did not watch Pres. Obama’s speech for a number of reasons, the main one being that I simply could not stand it. Instead, I read the transcript.

Leave it to the lawyers and experts on the Constitution to duke it out, but, no matter how you cut it, this was a flagrant violation of the separation of powers, and he knew it (video at the link):

For years, he has called such action illegal; in fact, “The Kelly File” found 25 instances in which Obama said so on camera.

Mickey Kaus posits that 

If Obama’s executive action is as broad as described, the Supreme Court will strike it down.

And sooner than we expect, by using a system-balancing rationale.

But that’s in the future.

Let’s look at last night’s speech, a low point for the putative greatest orator evah, who, while making up his rules, claims that

We expect people who live in this country to play by the rules.

First, there’s the racism, as Pete pointed out:

Are we a nation that tolerates the hypocrisy of a system where workers who pick our fruit and make our beds never have a chance to get right with the law?

Immediately followed by,

Or are we a nation that gives them a chance to make amends, take responsibility, and give their kids a better future?

Because the man who said, “You didn’t build that” cannot conceive that the #Fruitpickers and #Bedmakers can actually better themselves through education, perseverance and hard work in a business-friendly economic environment (which certainly government regulation and taxation – two of Obama’s preferred tools – hinder). To Obama, the #Fruitpickers and #Bedmakers are not (as he had said earlier in the same speech) “able to remake ourselves as [they] choose;” it’s their kids who must be given a better future.

But Obama was on a roll,

Are we a nation that accepts the cruelty of ripping children from their parents’ arms, or are we a nation that values families and works together to keep them together?

Of course, said by a man who support late-term abortion, one must conclude that liberals are irony-poor people.

Then there’s Scripture!

Scripture tells us, we shall not oppress a stranger, for we know the heart of a stranger.

Scott Johnson had something to say about that,

I will concede, however, that the Torah portion was brilliant. The White House functionaries love it so much that they highlight it in their post on the speech. Go down, Barry!

Obama has come down from the mountain as the lawgiver with his immigration commandments, but he left out the part about not bearing false witness. It’s not part of his immigration package.

Anyway, Obama is obviously more Pharaoh than Moses. Obama’s immigration commandments have no higher authority than his own say-so. He’s Pharaoh a la Yul Brynner in the classic 1956 movie, issuing edicts with the force of law: “So let it be written. So let it be done.”

No nadir is complete without a pull at the heartstrings, so, of course, there was a story about some girl who,

When she started school, she didn’t speak any English. She caught up to other kids by reading newspapers and watching PBS.

Allow my snark to flow: OF COURSE the kid learned American English from Sesame Street, and the Queen’s English from Thomas the Tank Engine and Downton Abbey! She must have even picked up a Scottish brogue from Donald and Douglas!

Again, the fact that parents may have actively participated in their child’s literacy while they themselves were learning English – as thousands, if not millions, of immigrant families have – is a concept that does not enter in Obama’s Life of Julia, Amnesty Applicant story.

And reading newspapers? Really? Don’t public schools have books at taxpayers’ expense anymore?

Twitchy caught what a real-life legal immigrant had to say, and she didn’t hold back:

Read the rest of her tweets here.

Parting question:
Now that he bypassed Congress for amnesty, and there’s that deal with Iran coming up, will Obama end the embargo with Cuba before year’s end?

Picked by PowerLine. Thank you!

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics, news, and culture at Fausta’s Blog.

I was in my friend Rick Moran’s November 5th Election Night Extravaganza podcast, and among the many topics we discussed, I mentioned that I relocated from Princeton, NJ to Miami, FL a few months ago. Rick asked me why, and I gave the totally honest, simple answer, “Taxes.”

I went on to explain that at the time I sold it, I was paying $16,000 in annual real estate and school taxes on my house. You also add to that NJ’s income tax, and, in the long term, estate and inheritance taxes, and yes, the answer is, Taxes.

I was scheduled to be in Rick’s podcast for a half hour but stayed on, and, after my reply, Jazz Shaw diverted the conversation to the question, were taxes an issue in the last election? Jazz and the other guest seemed to agree they weren’t.

For people like myself, whose child(ren) are grown and out of the house, who have family in low-tax states, and whose occupations are not tied to a location due to freelancing, travel, or even retirement, taxes are an issue when we decide to vote with our feet. Not the only issue, but a very important issue.

For people whose children are in local public/private schools which they like, with relatives (especially elderly parents) nearby, and in full-time local jobs, local taxes are a penury they continue to endure, since the purpose of the tax-payed bureaucracies is to expand themselves in every way. To them, as it was with me for years, life starts – as the Rabbi in the punchline* said – “when the kids leave the house and the dog dies.”

According to this article, which looked at data from a study by the Tax Foundation (a Washington, DC-based taxpayer advocacy group)

Turns out when it comes to taxes, less is more. Here are some of the conclusions drawn from the study. Keep in mind, the latest data used is from 2010. In the years since, many states have raised or lowered their tax rates, but those changes aren’t reflected here:

  • Collectively, the nine states that have no personal income tax – Alaska, Florida, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming – gained $146.2 billion in AGI.
  • And collectively, the areas with the highest personal income tax – California, Hawaii, Oregon, Iowa, New Jersey, Vermont, New York, Maine, and Washington, DC – lost $107.4 billion AGI.
  • Looked at another way, the ten states* with the lowest per capita state and local tax burden netted an increase of $69.9 billion in AGI. The ten states** with the highest state and local tax burden per capita lost a whopping $139 billion in AGI.

But, were taxes really not an issue in the last election?

How about Obamacare? Was Obamare an issue in this election?

What are the headlines saying?

Democrats’ electoral disaster puts Obamacare in serious peril

The Supreme Court said Obamare is a tax, after all.

[* The joke goes,
A Catholic priest, a Protestant minister, and a Rabbi walk into a bar. The bartender asks, “when does life start?”
The priest says, “Life starts at conception.”
The minister says, “Life starts at birth.”
The Rabbi says, “Lie starts when the kids leave the house and the dog dies.”]

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics, news, and culture at Fausta’s Blog.

Obama’s amnesty (Obamanasty?) is just around the corner – probably next week; the Russians will be flying regular patrol missions from the Arctic Ocean to the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico; Jonathan Gruber’s the gift that keeps on giving,

Gruber said the measures in the bill that attempt to lower costs constitute a “spaghetti approach” — throwing everything against the wall to see what sticks. And while preferable to the status quo, Gruber said he could offer no guarantee that any of the measures would work.

It’s enough to give you a headache.

But despair not, BatDad’s here to cheer you up!

BatDad? Yes, BatDad!

A Georgia father of four dons the Dark Knight’s disguise and mimics the superhero’s husky voice to become BatDad, protecting his family and the suburbs from bad table manners, unbuckled seat belts and more in 6-second Vine clips.

The intrepid @BatDadBlake copes with the everyday travails of parenthood with a camera, a Vine, and a Batmam mask. When things get really tough, he dons a full suit,

The few seconds long snippets are funny, but when you watch the compilations you really end up laughing out loud. Anyone who’s had children (or has been in the company of children for extended periods of time) can’t help but admire BatDadBlake’s fun sense of humor and Mrs. BatDadBlake’s patience,

His wife Jen has become a central character, often getting startled while performing every day activities. “I feel bad for her,” Wilson said. “I know that I can be annoying.”

His dad, grandma, and brother Rob[in] make appearances, too.

The compilations have millions of YouTube viewers, so you’ll be in good company.

I must warn you, though, it’s addictive.

Go ahead, you know you want to.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics, news, and culture at Fausta’s Blog.