Less than three months after the U.S. announced it will ease travel to Cuba, home rental site Airbnb is listing properties in the island nation. The average price for a room or home in Havana is currently $43. The company says it’s starting out with more than 1,000 listings.

A look at the offerings Thursday morning found everything from “beautiful colonial rooms for rent in the heart of Havana” for $27 a night to a “a holiday sanctuary” chalet on the outskirts of Havana that can accommodate 10 guests for $1000. It includes a pool.

Airbnb Starts Listing Homes In Cuba; Average Rate Is $43 A Night

Photo Credit: Airbnb
This man's suicide exposes the monstrous cruelty of the DWP | Harriet Williamson

Yesterday, Britain made history, and not because the story of Dave Hameron supposedly porking a dead pig’s head broke on the Daily Mail website at 11pm. We made history, because in our affluent, highly developed nation, it came to light that for the first time, a coroner has determined that a man died due to being found ‘fit for work’.

Michael O’Sullivan was a 60-year-old father from north London, and he hanged himself after his disability benefits were stopped. The government’s DWP assessors found him ‘fit for work’, despite the opinion of three doctors that his recurrent depression was very serious. Mr O’Sullivan’s GP had certified him unable to work, but the ruling of his doctor, a trained medical professional, was not apparently good enough for the Department of Work and Pensions.

Benefit sanctions and the outcomes of work capability assessments (WCAs) have been long linked to cases of suicide, and figures released last month show that nearly 90 people have died every month between 2011 and 2014 after being found ‘fit for work’. These statistics in themselves are shocking, but the fact that a coroner has roundly deposited blame for Mr O’Sullivan’s tragic suicide at the door of the DWP is almost more so.

Mary Hassell, senior coroner for inner north London, wrote that “the trigger for Mr O’Sullivan’s suicide was his recent assessment by a DWP doctor as being fit for work… In my opinion, there is a risk that future deaths will occur unless action is taken”. There is nothing ambiguous about her statement and no wriggle room for ministers to put a political spin on Michael O’Sullivan’s death. He was a person and a father and obviously, demonstrably unwell, and now he’s dead.

The current government’s rhetoric about ‘helping people who help themselves’ has been exposed to be as hollow and disingenuous as I always suspected it to be. The DWP must be aware that their culture of sanctions isn’t working – lest we forget, they were forced to fabricate case studies of people ‘helped’ by having their benefits stopped, presumably because they couldn’t find any real people who would attest to this.

The Conservative administration is both completely out of touch with the reality of people’s lives (hardly surprising when the cabinet is filled with white, wealthy, male Etonians) and demonstrative of a level of political cruelty that makes Thatcher look almost cuddly in comparison. Government sanctions that push vulnerable citizens to take their own lives are beyond monstrous. There aren’t words strong enough to condemn the actions of the DWP; I feel sickened to even have to write this, not just as someone who struggles with their mental health or as someone on a low income, but as a human being.

Budding authors of dystopian fiction will need to wrack their brains particularly hard for fresh material, as David Cameron, George Osborne and Iain Duncan Smith are eagerly putting all the best ideas into practice. A Britain that shows such distain for the poor, the disabled, the mentally ill, and the young, is not a country I can be proud of. It’s not a Britain I want to pass on to any future children I may have.

Michael O’Sullivan is dead and he cannot tell us about his despair at finding out that the DWP overruled the decision of his doctor. For his sake, and for the sake of so many others, we need to raise our voices and challenge this nightmare circus of inhuman bureaucracy. Sanctions cause deaths. The message is loud and clear.
Bolivia declares Israel a terrorist state, 42 years of visa free travel called off
Bolivia declares Israel a terrorist state, 42 years of visa free travel called off

An article from 2014 - Bolivia declares that Israel is a terrorist state.

At least one country in the Americas did something about Israel’s attack on Gaza.

Evo Morales filed a request with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to prosecute Israel for “crimes against humanity.”

«Вашим санкциям “труба”, г-н Рейган!». В 1980–1982 США ввели против СССР серию экономических санкций.

“Pipe to your sanctions, Mr. Reagan”. (in Russian “pipe” and “failed” can be the same word). In 1980-1982 the United States imposed a series of economic sanctions against the Soviet Union.

The U.S. wants to slap sanctions on cybercriminals. President Obama issued an executive order Wednesday creating the nation’s first sanctions program to combat “malicious” cyberattacks and cyberspying.

President Obama said cyberthreats pose one of “the most serious economic and national security challenge” to the U.S., and that the executive order offers a “targeted tool” for countering that threat.

The sanctions would apply to individuals and groups involved in cyberattacks that harm or compromise critical infrastructure, steal trade secrets and hobble computer systems, among other things.

U.S. Creates First Sanctions Program Against Cybercriminals

Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images

DWP admits inventing quotes from fake ‘benefits claimants’ for sanctions leaflet

Responding to Welfare Weekly’s FoI request, the DWP conceded that: “The photos used are stock photos and along with the names do not belong to real claimants. The stories are for illustrative purposes only.

Advertising Standards Authority rules state that “marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so”. The regulator’s rules also say that marketers “must hold documentary evidence that a testimonial or endorsement used in a marketing communication is genuine, unless it is obviously fictitious, and hold contact details for the person who, or organisation that, gives it”.

The Public Commercial Services Union said that it planned to write to the DWP to complain that it was irresponsible of the government to invent the stories to “illustrate the contentious belief that sanctions are welcomed by claimants”.

The union’s general secretary, Mark Serwotka, said: “It is disgraceful and sinister that the DWP has been trying to trick people into believing claimants are happy to have their benefits stopped or threatened. Sanctions are unnecessarily punitive and counterproductive, and should be scrapped.

Here’s how President Obama is punishing North Korea for hacking Sony 

North Korea is getting sanctioned — and that’s just the beginning.

In an executive order, President Barack Obama has authorized the Treasury to impose additional sanctions on North Korea as “the first aspect” of a response to North Korea’s alleged hacking of Sony, which the White House views as part of “ongoing provocative, destabilizing and repressive actions and policies,” according to a statement.

Will these sanctions have any effect?

the-out replied to your linkThe human cost of sanctions

Do you honestly think that the Iranians will stop working towards a nuke, or even slow down? What about all the other innocent civilians around the world?

1. Do you honestly think the Iranians are actually building a nuke? Because our intelligence agencies (and Israel’s, for that matter) have said for years that isn’t the case. And these agencies—well, we’re not exactly talking about peaceniks here.

2. Do you honestly think that, if Iran did build a bomb, they’d ever use it? The United States has thousands of nukes, and we’re the one country in the whole world which has demonstrated our willingness to use them with devastating civilian casualties. If Iran nuked anyone anywhere under any circumstances I think we all know Washington would bomb that country into the stone age, to borrow a nasty turn of phrase from a past war.

Look, I don’t trust any government. I don’t trust ours and I don’t trust Iran’s. That’s not about political party or religion but about the fundamental nature of government.


  • given that American and Israeli intelligence agencies concur that Iran is not building a nuke, 
  • and given the massive disincentives weighed against Iran actually nuking anyone even if they could,
  • and given the very real human costs our sanctions have had for Iranian civilians for decades,

yeah, I’m pretty confident that removing those sanctions is the way to go.