Obama replies to Cuban blogger

Earlier today, Yoani Sanchez posted questions to U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro regarding U.S.-Cuban relations on her blog, Generación Y. Sanchez, who was recently denied a visa to visit New York City to attend an awards dinner after she was awarded a Marie Moors Cabot Prize from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, received a direct response from Obama himself.

Obama addresses each point with steadfast poise, sticking to his administration's usual positions on the topic. He categorizes Cuban affairs as a domestic and foreign policy issue for the U.S. and emphasizes democratic rule, freedom of speech, and human rights, familiar rhetoric from the president. He also does not rule out a visit to the island in the future, not to work on his tan, but rather as a "diplomatic tool":

 I look forward to visit a Cuba in which all citizens enjoy the same rights and opportunities as other citizens in the hemisphere.
No word yet if Castro intends to reply. However, his mind may be on other things after Human Rights Watch's release of the report "New Castro, Same Cuba," condemning his regime:
In his three years in power, Raúl Castro has been just as brutal as his brother. Cubans who dare to criticize the government live in perpetual fear, knowing they could wind up in prison for merely expressing their views.
Pete Souza/White House via Getty Images 


Worst Place for the World's Children: Afghanistan

Where is the worst place for children to be born in 2009, especially girls? Surprise! Afghanistan. Today, UNICEF published a special report titled State of the World's Children; Daniel Toole, UNICEF regional director for South Asia, told a news briefing in Geneva earlier today: 

Afghanistan today is without a doubt the most dangerous place to be born.

After eight years since the U.S. invasion, this is just one more incentive to encouarge the Obama administration to make a decision on its role in the region.

More optimistically, the reports highlights signatory countries of the UN's Convention on the Rights of the Child who have shown marked improvement, including India, Serbia and Sierra Leone.

Paula Bronstein/Getty Images