Things That Matter

Now That Cuba Has Allowed Social Media Access, Government Officials Are Blocking Those Who Criticize Them

While internet access is still relatively new in Cuba, there has already been some controversy when it comes to citizens criticizing public officials online. According to the Miami Herald, Twitter users have seen some of their profiles and comments regarding government officials blocked or removed altogether. Twitter users took to social media to voice their concern about having their voices and comments silenced by public officials.

Limited internet access in Cuba began in 2008 but it wasn’t until last December when mobile phones became readily available.

Cuban leader Miguel Díaz-Canel promoted the idea of having a platform where Cuban officials and regular citizens could interact. With such a relatively new technology at the hands of public officials, they have swayed away from criticism. With internet access and Wi-Fi hotspots just becoming accessible to all on the island, many are getting their feet wet when it comes to social media. That includes government and public officials.

Jovann Silva Delgado, a Cuban lawyer who lives in the U.S, was recently blocked online by José Ramón Cabañas, the ambassador of Cuba in Washington. Silva says he was blocked by Cabañas because he criticized a protest last year initiated by the Cuban delegation at the United Nations.

“Beyond the political position of a public official, who holds a post presumably supported by voters, the social media networks of officials are to give an account of their management, which is paid with everyone’s money,” Silva told the Miami Herald.

This issue has been happening to multiple people trying to interact with public officials in Cuba.

Another user, Norges Rodríguez, founder of YucaByte, an online project on communication technology, said he was blocked. Rodríguez found out he was blocked by Jorge Luis Perdomo, minister of communications in Cuba, after trying to mention him in a tweet.

“Well, today I tried to mention the minister [of communications] in a tweet and I found out that I am blocked. I think I was respectful the last time I mentioned him,“ Rodríguez said in a tweet.

The Inventory project, a repository of open data for Cuba, is trying to list the names of Cuban officials who block citizens on social media.

The Inventory Project, invited users who have been blocked by public officials to give info on who blocked them to create a larger database. The Twitter profile asked users to provide a tweet with the the name of the user, the person who blocked, the date and a screenshot of the message that was blocked.

There has already been a long list of officials who have been reported for blocking citizens. Among them are National Assembly member Mariela Castro, daughter of former president Raúl Castro and Juan Antonio Fernández, ambassador of Cuba in Austria.

Just last May, a U.S. judge banned public officials from blocking those who criticize them online.

In the U.S., it’s a complete different story when it comes to citizens criticizing public officials. Last May, U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald said that officials like President Donald Trump violated the First Amendment when he blocked Twitter users who criticized him. The ruling was a victory for free speech and a harsh rebuke to Trump’s effort to prevent his critics from engaging with him on social media.

While there has been no law or ruling similar in Cuba, you can only expect some kind of action to be taken eventually. Social media interactions between citizens and public officials is still relatively new in Cuba but that gives no excuse to silence voices. Especially those trying to create public dialogue with leaders and government officials.

READ: Here’s A Brief Look At The History Of The Cuban People And The Island They Call Home

Ellen DeGeneres Defends Her Friendship With George W Bush, Faces Backlash

Things That Matter

Ellen DeGeneres Defends Her Friendship With George W Bush, Faces Backlash

TV cameras captured a moment at the Dallas Cowboys-Green Bay Packers game, of comedian Ellen DeGeneres sitting next to former President George W. Bush. After footage of the pair exchanging laughs went viral online, users were quick to point out that they didn’t get the joke.

Soon enough, the unlikely pair’s interaction sparked discussion online about tolerance and why DeGeneres no longer seems to be rooting for the home team.

On Sunday, DeGeneres and the former president were seen seated side by side with their wives a private suite and the clip quickly went viral.

At first glance, the interaction might seem… unlikely? After all, DeGeneres is an out and proud married gay liberal who in 2008 married her now-wife Portia de Rossi after the overturn of the same-sex marriage ban in California. Just four years before, during his 2004 reelection campaign, Bush ran on a platform that upheld anti-LGBTQ+ policies and called for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would ban same-sex marriage in the United States.

After users on Twitter were quick to lambast her for spending time with Bush, DeGeneres defended herself and Bush with an argument that truly oversimplified the situation.

“Why is a gay Hollywood liberal sitting next to a conservative Republican president?” DeGeneres replied during the opening monologue of her CBS’ series “Ellen DeGeneres Show.

She went on to say, “Here’s the thing: I’m friends with George Bush… In fact, I’m friends with a lot of people who don’t share the same beliefs that I have. We’re all different, and I think that we’ve forgotten that that’s OK.”

But what DeGeneres forgets is that few people are aware that people of two different mindsets can be friends. We ALL have family members and friends who hold different beliefs. This year, Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner tables across the country will likely, yet again, see more heated debates and arguments about today’s dividing politics with points being made from across both aisles.

Her comments brush over the optics of her interactions. DeGeneres, the most powerful out Lesbian in the country, was seen cozying up to a man who led a staunch effort against gay rights during his time as one of the world’s most powerful leaders and who dragged the U.S. into a war with Iraq and Afghanistan under the belief that they possessed weapons of mass destruction, which was ultimately refuted. The human cost of his “War On Terror” resulted in the deaths of nearly 250,000 citizens in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan and his administration approved the torture of hundreds of others. Moreover, he ignored and lacked compassion for the largely Black community of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina when they sorely needed his support. Approved the detainment of over 750 Muslim-Americans after 9/11.

Today, he can be thanked for his contributions to the seating of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh during a time in which numerous sexual assault and harassment allegations were brought forward.

DeGeneres’s relationship with Bush might seem generous and tolerant at first glance but dive deeper and you’ll find that it also forgets the various impacts of an extremely powerful person.

Bush’s legacy has been marked by abuse of power and complete incompetence. He was not and is not the uncle at Thanksgiving who spouts off unforgivable racial, anti-LGBT, or misogynist jokes at dinner. He was and is a powerful man who changed the course of our country’s history and those of many others, affected the lives of innocent people, while also simultaneously taking hundreds of those lives away.

DeGeneres is snide and ignorant with her responses to these aspects that not only amount to his character but also our future. After all, as a former president of the United States, Bush remains extremely powerful and further influencing the lives of others as he did recently with his support of Brett Kavanaugh.

Watch This Little Dude Repeat His Adorable Self-Affirmations While Walking To School

Culture

Watch This Little Dude Repeat His Adorable Self-Affirmations While Walking To School

@yashar / Twitter

We all know what self-affirmations are. They are simple phrases we repeat to ourselves to undo negative thoughts or self-doubt that cna plague us or undermine our own goals. Self-affirmations can set us on a path that sets us up for success by keeping us accountable and positive through the ups and downs of life. One little boy seems to already know this and has gotten an early start on his own self-affirmations.

A young boy is going viral on Twitter for repeating his self-affirmations while walking to school.

Credit: @yashar / Twitter

“I am smart. I am blessed. I can do anything,” the little boy repeated as he walked to school. The simple, yet effective, practice of self-affirmations is scientifically proven to have a lasting, positive impact on a person’s mental well-being. So, it is safe to say that this little one is already off to a stronger start in life than most adults.

The video is encouraging people to start their own self-affirmation routines.

Credit: @maurametolove / Twitter

According to PositivePsychology.com, the act of self-affirmation is proven to manifest in a positive mental outlook on life. Self-affirmations let us take control of the global narrative we tell of ourselves and lets us be flexible and moral as we adapt to the ever-changing environment we are constantly in.

The video is striking an emotional chord with adults and children alike.

Credit: @Nors_Hussain / Twitter

It is never too early to start children on their path to positive thinking. There is a lot of stuff in the world that can hurt you and stunt your development. It is never a bad idea to get your own little ones started with positive self-affirmations and start the habit.

The overall cuteness level of the video is enough for some people to just celebrate.

One of the most important parts of the self-affirmation practice is the ability to create a more flexible and adapting self-identity. By creating this self-identity, it will keep you from thinking of yourself as one kind of person, such as a “writer” or “wife.” Being able to grow within yourself offers a freedom that can set you on whatever path you choose.

Some people on Twitter are even cosigning the little dude’s words to encourage him to keep going.

Keep it going, Ayaan. There is nothing that can stand in your way, little man. It is clear that you know that you are capable of doing anything you set yor mind to and that is one of life’s most valuable lessons. There are few things in this world more empowering than knowing you can do anything and letting yourself know that you can do anything.

Some people are even wanting to have their own kids now.

Credit: @HudsonRiverCroc / Twitter

While there is a movement in the millennial generation not to have children, Ayaan might be changing minds. Who doesn’t want a little dude who can show the world the power of self-affirmation? Maybe his own idea that he can do anything means he grows up to solve some of the world’s most pressing problems.

His positivity is inspiring other people to be more positive in their own lives.

Credit: @crookson1506 / Twitter

It’s exciting what someone else’s own enthusiasm can do for other people. Some people are really into listening to little dude celebrate his own pathway to positive thinking.

Some people are not being fooled by the little boy.

Kids are not for everyone. That is okay. However, it is easy to see how this video would make some people want to have a little self-affirming dude of their own.

Basically, some people are just falling in love with the kid.

Credit: @AllisonRFloyd/ Twitter

It’s hard not to fall in love with this little one. His words and attitude are so inspiring.

Way to go, Ayaan!

Keep up those self-affirmations. They will take you far.

READ: This Elementary School Held A Flash Mob Where Kids Dressed Up And Danced To Selena And Celia Cruz And I’m Crying At My Desk