embargo

That Brilliant Florida Sunshine

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) considers the involvment of Pope Francis in the release of Alan Goss, an American held in a Cuban prison, and further plans by the Obama administration to normalize diplomatic relations with the Caribbean nation, at the U.S. Capitol on 17 December 2014.  (Image: Politico)

Then again, the idea of an American Catholic disdaining what the Pope has to say isn’t exactly news.

Still, as we read through the explanation of what the Florida Republican is on about from Lauren French and Seung Min Kim of Politico

Sen. Marco Rubio, a Catholic, criticized Pope Francis on Wednesday after the pontiff played a key role in helping the United States and Cuba forge an agreement that resulted in the release of American Alan Gross from Cuba.

Rubio said he would “ask His Holiness to take up the cause of freedom and democracy.”

The Florida Republican said he didn’t criticize Francis’ personal appeals to help facilitate Gross’ release, but was speaking in response to the White House’s announcement about talks to normalize relations with Cuba after a nearly 50-year embargo with the country.

—it seems nearly inevitable to wonder if Sen. Rubio is up for his job chairing the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Western Affairs. What, after all, is his objection?

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A Question That Seems Somewhat Obvious

Okay, there must be something I’m missing:

Shadows in Gaza

Seven years into an Israeli blockade and ten months into a crippling Egyptian one, Gaza’s economic growth has evaporated and unemployment soared to almost 40 percent by the end of 2013.

Opposition to the Hamas militant group which runs the Gaza Strip has led its neighbors to quarantine the enclave, shutting residents out of the struggling Mideast peace process and leaving them with plenty of parties to blame.

Living on U.N. handouts of rice, flour, canned meat and sunflower oil, with limited access to proper health care or clean water, families like the Mustafas – seemingly permanent refugees from ancestral lands now part of Israel – have no money, no jobs and no hope.

“We’re drowning … We feel like the whole world is on top of us. I turn on the television and I see the lifestyles on there, and I think, God help me leave this place,” said Tareq, 22.

The Mustafas often must pick up and move when rain floods their low-lying home – even on a sunny day, it’s lined with slick, smelly mildew. They stand in the dark, as 12-hour power cuts are now the norm throughout Gaza due to scant fuel.

“There’s no money for university or to get married. There’s not even enough to spend outside the house so we can escape a little. What kind of life is this?” Tareq asks.

Well over half of Gaza residents receive food from the United Nations, and the number is on the rise.

UNRWA, the U.N. Refugee Works Agency devoted to feeding and housing the refugees, told Reuters it was now feeding some 820,000, up by 40,000 in the last year. The U.N.’s World Food Program (WFP) gives food aid to some 180,000 other residents.

(Browning and Al-Mughrabi)

To the one, it seems like an obvious question. To the other, let us set aside the usual rhetoric about who must or is allowed to protect themselves from whom and why. It really does seem like a straightforward question:

What is this supposed to accomplish?

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