US-sanctioned country asks UN for help to feed children

Cuba has asked the World Food Programme for donations of powdered milk

Cuba has appealed to the World Food Programme (WFP) for help with providing milk to children on the island, for the first time in its history, the UN body has acknowledged.

Havana has admitted to milk shortages for weeks, but has not made the request to the WFP public. The agency confirmed it to the Spanish news agency EFE, in a written statement on Wednesday.

The WFP “has received an official communication from the (Cuban) government requesting support to continue the monthly delivery of 1 kilogram of milk for girls and boys under the age of 7 throughout the country,” the agency’s mission in Cuba said.

The WFP also confirmed that “this is the first time that Cuba has requested assistance” by sending an official communication to the WFP leadership. The UN agency noted the seriousness of the request given the “deep economic crisis that Cuba is facing,” which “significantly affects the food and nutritional security of the population.”

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According to EFE, the Cuban request was made “at the end of last year” to the WFP headquarters in Rome, Italy. It did not specify a time frame for the aid, prompting the agency to mobilize additional resources and involve “non-traditional donors” to meet the need.

The WFP has already delivered 144 tons of “skimmed-milk powder,” enough to help “almost 48,000 children between the ages of seven months and three years in Pinar del Rio and Havana.” This is just 6% of the children whom the Cuban government wishes to provide with subsidized milk, however.

Cuban families with children aged seven and younger, as well as people with special dietary needs, receive ration cards that would enable them to buy milk at a heavily subsidized price of 2.5 Cuban pesos (about $0.21). The government has struggled to deliver the milk in recent months, however, and some regions have either imposed further restrictions or replaced milk with “vitaminized drinks.”

Liquid and powdered milk can be bought in Cuba from private companies, but their price is reportedly beyond the reach of most Cubans, who rely on government-subsidized goods.

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Cuba has been under a near-total US embargo since 1962, with Washington seeking to block any other countries from doing business with the island until it embraces “democracy.” A combination of the embargo and the Cuban government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic has drastically worsened the island’s economic situation over the past three years.

Havana recently announced the end of many subsidies, leading to a sharp increase in prices of goods ranging from cigarettes to utilities such as electricity, water, and natural gas.

Macron stands by remarks on NATO troops in Ukraine

The French president brushed off criticism from fellow NATO members, insisting his words were “thought-through and measured”

French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday stood by his controversial remarks on Monday about the prospects of deploying troops to Ukraine, which have caused uproar among some NATO members, and has insisted his words were well thought out.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a visit to inspect the 2024 Olympics village near Paris, Macron refused to backtrack on his statements despite a flurry of criticism from some fellow members of the US-led bloc.

“These are sufficiently serious issues; every one of the words that I say on this issue is weighed, thought-through and measured,” Macron claimed.

The French president triggered the political furore on Monday while speaking to reporters after hosting a meeting of European leaders in Paris. Macron insisted that the West should stop at nothing to prevent Russia from getting the upper hand in the conflict, saying the deployment of troops by NATO and other Western countries to Ukraine could not be ruled out.

“There’s no consensus today to send, in an official manner, troops on the ground,” he said. “In terms of dynamics, we cannot exclude anything. We will do everything necessary to prevent Russia from winning this war.”

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NATO member backs ‘boots on the ground’ in Ukraine

The statement prompted a wave of denial from NATO members, with multiple major members of the bloc, including the US, the UK and Germany insisting they harbor no such plans. Some lesser members of the bloc, however, namely Estonia and Lithuania, appeared to back Macron, suggesting that sending troops to Ukraine should not be ruled out.

“We shouldn’t be afraid of our own power. Russia is saying this or that step is escalation, but defense is not escalation,” the Prime Minister of Estonia Kaja Kallas told Sky on Wednesday. “I’m saying we should have all options on the table. What more can we do in order to really help Ukraine win?”

Moscow has strongly condemned Macron’s remarks, cautioning the US-led bloc against taking further hostile moves. Should NATO troops actually be deployed to Ukraine, a direct confrontation between the alliance and Russia will become not only “possible” but actually “inevitable,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov warned.

Why Israel will almost certainly lose its war in Gaza (even if Israel exterminates all Gazans & steals all Palestinian land)

Eric Zuesse (blogs at

No country in the world (not even the United States) has violated as many international laws and Resolutions from the General Assembly of the United Nations as Israel has. Until now, nothing has been done to enforce international law upon Israel’s Government, because America’s Government is a permanent member of the U.N.’s Security Council and has always vetoed anything that would authorize such enforcement against Israel — and, consequently, America’s Government has granted carte blanche to Israel’s Government: complete immunity to do whatever it wants.

But that international legal immunity for Israel is almost certain to end soon, because the U.N.’s International Court of Justice (ICJ) is now considering whether what Israel is doing to Gazans constitutes “genocide” (planning, and carrying out, the extermination of a civilian population) — the most severe of all violations of international law. And, in the process of that consideration, the Court listened to testimony at hearings during from 19 February to 26 February, in which “Over 50 nations presented testimony to the ICJ on the legality of the Israeli occupation, with the majority offering stirring arguments for Israeli accountability, and justice for the Palestinians. An Advisory Opinion is expected sometime this summer.” Almost certainly, that advisory opinion will recommend international trials to be held at the International Criminal Court, in which trials Benjamin Netanyahu, and maybe even his partner in this genocidal case Joe Biden, will be formally charged with the international crime of “genocide,” plus of “the acquisition of Palestinian territory by force” (the illegal Israeli expulsions of Palestinians and replacing them with Israeli settlers) as well as of other violations of international criminal laws. Since these are not merely national laws, but are international ones, it would create entirely new worldwide legal precedents, which — for example, the Nuremberg Tribunals after WW2 failed to do (they were instead victors’ ‘justice’ parading as-if they were authentic impartial international-law tribunals carrying out the laws of a worldwide Governmental system that didn’t actually exist prior to the creation of the United Nations — which wasn’t yet up-and-running at that time).

On the final day of these genocide-by-Israel hearings, David Kattenburg, an independent journalist based in the Netherlands town of Breda, reporting from the Court at The Hague, headlined on the #1 website covering the Israeli operation to exterminate the Gazans, “Mondo Weiss”, an article titled “World Court hearing on legality of Israeli occupation ends following week of testimony”. He provided there a breathtakingly good summary of the six-day-long hearings — everyone should read it, because it is clear that not only will Israel become an international pariah nation and face vastly more comprehensive legal international sanctions than any (all of which are illegal under international law) of the sanctions that the U.S. Government has imposed and enforces against countries such as Russia, China, Iran, Venezuela and North Korea, but he also showed that the U.S. itself will become, at the very least, enormously isolated internationally, as being, if not a co-defendant alongside Israel, then close to being as much of an international pariah as Israel itself will become from this (no matter what its verdict will be). As Kattenburg’s lengthy summary makes clear, the economic damage to the United States, even from merely a conviction of Israel (but none against America), would be enormous. However, if the U.S. itself will be a target in its verdict, then either the existing international legal order will collapse, or else the U.S.’s empire will. And the U.S. Government’s proposal to replace existing (U.N.-based) international law, by instituting a U.S.-generated “international rules-based order,” in which the U.S. Government will determine those “international rules,” would be not only dead, but finally and ignominiously buried. Finally just gone. So, this case could turn out to be the one in which international law will — at long last — assert itself against the U.S.-and-allied efforts to replace it by America’s “international rules.”

So: the issue in Gaza is of monumental global historical importance, and might even provide the settlement to international legal issues that America’s Truman Administration in the immediate aftermath of WW2 blocked from being addressed. (His immediate predecessor, FDR, had devoted much of his energies and attention during 11 August 1941 till his death on 12 April 1945, to designing what FDR named as “the United Nations”; and the new President Truman finally decided on 25 July 1945 to trash and replace all of that FDR-design for it, by starting America’s effort, since that time, to become the actual World Government — not a democratic one such as FDR had planned but a dictatorial one instead — dictating over the entire planet.)

The Middle-Eastern journalist Steven Sahiouni was factually correct in his February 23rd statement that “The moral authority of the US has been ripped from Washington, DC, by the power of the genocide and war crimes in Gaza, carried out by Israel while using weapons sent to Tel Aviv from the US State Department. Biden’s fingerprints are all over the murder weapons.”

Kattenberg’s article quoted from the “six days of oral pleadings and 57 written statements filed by UN member states and three organizations – the League of Arab States, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and the African Union.” He noted that “With a few exceptions, Israel’s allies seem to have accepted the inevitability of an ICJ Advisory Opinion, and are now in damage control.” He also pointed out that:

Israel’s allies push court to not render an opinion

Having concluded oral sessions, the International Court of Justice can either accede to the General Assembly’s request for an Advisory Opinion or — exercising its discretionary power — it can decline to do so, something it has never done.

The U.S., Canada, UK, and a handful of other states – among these, Zambia, represented this morning by its lavishly wigged Solicitor General, and Fiji, clearly a friend of Israel, who referred to the General Assembly’s Advisory Opinion request as a “distinctly one-sided” “legal maneuver” to side-step the ‘Peace Process’, assigning legal consequences on just one of the parties to the ‘conflict’ – are hoping for a first.

The court has “compelling reasons” not to issue an Advisory Opinion, they argue. Israel has not consented to ICJ jurisdiction over what amounts to a ‘bilateral dispute,’ best resolved through negotiation between the two parties; international law would get in the way; ‘seized’ by the situation since 1967, the Security Council’s authority in these matters is superior to the General Assembly’s; an Advisory Opinion would complicate the Council’s pursuit of its ‘Land for Peace’ ‘framework,’ based on the Oslo Accords.

If the court does issue an opinion about Israel’s occupation, the U.S., Britain, Zambia, and Fiji argued, it should refrain from delving into the exceptionally complex root causes of the situation.

However, if, at this stage, after the ICJ has previously voted (on 26 January 2024) (by margins of — out of 17 judges — 15 to 2 and 16 to 1) as having found a credible case on which to try Israel’s Government possibly for violating severe international laws against genocide, permanent illegal military occupation, and other such laws, will then ultimately decide to advise the International Criminal Court to hold a trial of Israel on such charges, then here are what Kattenburg identifies as possible consequences of such a decision (a decision which is extremely likely to result):

It will “help set the stage, politically, for what is regarded as legitimate in the international community, at the halls of the United Nations, in capitals of states around the world, when they’re dealing with the question of Palestine,” Canadian international law scholar and State of Palestine legal advisor Ardi Imseis told Mondoweiss, on the first day of hearings.

“Most particularly, because the occupation is unlawful and an internationally wrongful act, third states would not be allowed to continue to engage the State of Israel, the occupying power, in relation to the occupied Palestinian territory, in the same way that they have done over the past 56 years,” Imseis said.

“That means the end of all trade in arms; that means the end of all trade in settlement products.”

“[A] serious breach of a peremptory norm entitles states other than the injured state to take countermeasures against the responsible state as a legal consequence of that breach,” legal counsel for the Dutch Foreign Ministry, René Lefeber, confirmed to the ICJ last week. The Netherlands did this in late January, cutting off the provision of F-35 spare parts to Israel.

The U.S. government will also be under the gun. Recent U.S. sanctions against violent settlers, and Antony Blinken’s confirmation that Israeli settlements are “inconsistent” with international law, suggest increasing willingness to hold Israel accountable for its breaches of peremptory norms, as required under international law.

Strategic lawsuits promise to proliferate.

In response to the ICJ’s January 26 provisional measures order against Israel, U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey White cited “undisputed evidence” that “the ongoing military siege on Gaza is intended to eradicate a whole people and therefore plausibly falls within the international prohibition against genocide.”

Judge White “implored” U.S. officials “to examine the results of their unflagging support” for Israel.

A decisive Advisory Opinion is certain to put wind in the BDS movement’s sails.

This past November, shortly after the start of Israel’s assault on Gaza, the Norwegian Pension Fund completed the withdrawal of its half-billion dollar investment in Israel Bonds.

Last week, four Norwegian universities reportedly terminated ties with Israeli counterparts.

And, as the ICJ drafts its Advisory Opinion on the legality of Israel’s occupation, it will also be building the factual basis for its genocide ruling two or three years down the road.

“I’m hopeful,” Giulia Pinzauti told Mondoweiss, in a café down the street from the Peace Palace.

“Everybody’s talking about genocide, as if that’s the only issue,” says Pinzauti. “Clearly, there’s a much bigger problem concerning the legality of the occupation and Israel’s discriminatory practices in the occupied territories. So that’s why I think this Advisory Opinion is extremely important … a good setup for hopefully the merits of the case concerning the Genocide Convention because it puts things in a much broader context.”

In the meantime, says Pinzauti — who teaches a course about the ICJ at Leiden University – the ICJ’s upcoming Advisory Opinion on the legal consequences of Israel’s prolonged occupation promises to transform the political landscape.

“It’s difficult for judicial decisions to change things on the ground, and that’s where impacts are really needed,” Pinzauti told Mondoweiss. “I’m hoping that judicial decisions or pronouncements or advisory opinions will help shape state policies in a way that can make effect on the ground where it’s really, really needed … I think it can provide the foundations for a just and lasting peace.”

In short: The U.S. Government would be faced with a choice either to join with Israel in being rejected by virtually all countries, or else to abandon Israel to the international judgment that Israel is a global pariah — for America to cease-and-desist its association with Israel.

However: if the latter — abandonment — is to be the outcome of this, then how would the U.S. Government justify the 25,000-tons+ of U.S.-made weapons-and-ammunition it has already donated to Israel to carry out this genocide? If America is already well past the point where it is clearly a participant in what Israel has been and is doing to Gaza, then won’t America clearly be in a damned-if-you-do, and damned-if-you-don’t, change its position on Israel predicament — where the world’s abandonment of Israel will then inevitably rub off irretrievably onto the U.S.’s own “brand”? If so, then what else would be the likely consequence of this, than the end of the period since 1945 during which America was the world’s leading nation? Not ONLY would Israel lose its almost-only patron, but that only patron would no longer carry the international clout that it formerly did. The entire Western World would be shaken out, to becoming reputational dust.

The ultimate end of this story, for Israel, seems likely to be the end of the nation of Israel. The entire Trumanite program would then be shattered. Whereas FDR (and his advisors) had been quietly planning to block Britain’s creation of a Jewish nation in Palestine, Truman passionately supported the British plan. He was the anti-FDR.

America has sunk itself in — so deeply into — being Israel’s top (and often only) patron, so that if Israel goes down, then the U.S. empire itself could likely terminate. The ignominy to Israel could do that: terminate the American empire.

This seems likely to be the moment in history when either the U.N. will be reformed into the vision that FDR had of it, or else it will become whatever it will, with no real leadership, and perhaps just hobbling along that way.


Investigative historian Eric Zuesse’s latest book, AMERICA’S EMPIRE OF EVIL: Hitler’s Posthumous Victory, and Why the Social Sciences Need to Change, is about how America took over the world after World War II in order to enslave it to U.S.-and-allied billionaires. Their cartels extract the world’s wealth by control of not only their ‘news’ media but the social ‘sciences’ — duping the public.