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U.S. eases restrictions against trade, travel to Cuba ahead of Obama visit

Published: Tuesday, March 15, 2016 @ 2:58 PM
Updated: Tuesday, March 15, 2016 @ 2:58 PM

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The Obama administration announced major changes Tuesday to decades-old sanctions against Cuba that will allow for "person-to-person" educational travel and open U.S. financial institutions to Cuban nationals.

The changes, which will take effect Wednesday, were announced just days before President Barack Obama was scheduled to embark on a historic two-day trip to Havana. They come more than one year since Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro said they would work to normalize relations between the countries.

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Among the changes, the U.S. Department of State and Transportation said it would allow for up to 110 non-stop flights daily between America and Cuba, a move the White House said would "significantly increase the ability of U.S. citizens to travel to Cuba to directly engage with the Cuban people."

It has been more than five decades since passenger flights have traveled between America and Cuba. Educational trips have been allowed but only in the form of often expensive group trips.

Going forward, Americans will be able to travel to the island nation with the stipulation that they fill out a form proclaiming the trip is for educational purposes and not tourism.

"Today's steps build on the actions of the last 15 months as we continue to break down economic barriers, empower the Cuban people and advance their financial friends, and chart a new course in U.S.-Cuba relations," said U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob L. Lew.

The White House also announced it will allow U.S. banks to handle transactions from the Cuban government. The earlier ban was reportedly one of the biggest complaints about the U.S. trade embargo in the country, as it crippled Cuba's ability to trade internationally.

North Korean officials reach out to Republicans for help understanding Trump: report

Published: Tuesday, September 26, 2017 @ 3:58 PM

VIDEO: President Trump Speaks To U.N. General Assembly On North Korea

North Korean officials are reaching out to Republican-linked analysts in an attempt to better understand President Donald Trump, according to a report published Tuesday by The Washington Post.

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The effort began before Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jung Un started trading fiery rhetoric in the wake of the Hermit Kingdom’s repeated missile tests, the Post reported.

“Their number one concern is Trump,” a source, who was not identified, told the newspaper. “They can’t figure him out.”

The Post reported that at least seven invitations have been extended to Washington-based analysts, including Douglas Paal, an expert on Asia who served on the National Security Council under presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

Paal, who is currently vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told the Post that he declined North Korea’s request to arrange talks between its officials and “American experts with Republican ties.”

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“The North Koreans are clearly eager to deliver a message,” Paal said, adding that North Korean officials wanted the meeting to take place in a neutral location, such as Switzerland. “But I think they’re only interested in getting out of the country for a bit.”

This image made on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017, from propaganda video released by North Korea, shows U.S. President Donald Trump. Military analysts say North Korea doesn't have the capability or intent to attack U.S. bombers and fighter jets, despite the country's top diplomat saying it has the right do so. They view the remark by North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho and a recent propaganda video simulating such an attack as responses to fiery rhetoric by U.S. President Donald Trump and his hardening stance against the North's nuclear weapons program. Words say "Madman Trump in the 70th anniversary of the U.S. Air Force babbled that if there will be an attack on the North, the F-35 will lead the way" and "F-35, B-1B and Carl Vinson, lead the attack if you will. That will be the order you head to the grave." (DPRK Today via AP)(AP)

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Vladimir Putin bares chest, goes spearfishing

Published: Saturday, August 05, 2017 @ 8:40 AM

Vladimir Putin - Fast Facts

Russian president Vladimir Putin took a short vacation to begin August, heading to Tuva in southern Siberia to fish, swim and catch some rays.

In images and footage released by Russian state television, Putin and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu can be seen enjoying the outdoors, The Associated Press reports. Putin is seen swimming and fishing, including spending two hours hunting a pike while spearfishing.

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Most of the images of Putin feature him bare-chested, except for the photos where Putin dons a wetsuit.

Putin is known for his love of adventure and the outdoors, and has taken active vacations since becoming Russia's president, The Associated Press reports.

In this photo released by Kremlin press service on Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017, Russian President Vladimir Putin holds a fish he caught while fishing during a mini-break in the Siberian Tyva region, a few days ago.(Alexei Nikolsky/Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Manuel Noriega, former Panamanian dictator, dead at 83

Published: Tuesday, May 30, 2017 @ 1:09 AM

048177 19: General Manuel Antonio Noriega poses February 13, 1988 in Panama. In February 1988, two US federal grand juries indicted Noriega on drug trafficking charges and both American and Panamanian citizens strove to remove him from office. (Photo by Greg Smith/Liaison)
Greg Smith/Getty Images
048177 19: General Manuel Antonio Noriega poses February 13, 1988 in Panama. In February 1988, two US federal grand juries indicted Noriega on drug trafficking charges and both American and Panamanian citizens strove to remove him from office. (Photo by Greg Smith/Liaison)(Greg Smith/Getty Images)

Former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega has died at age 83, multiple news outlets, including TVN and Telemetro, reported early Tuesday.

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Prince William: 'Nobody should be bullied for their sexuality'

Published: Saturday, May 13, 2017 @ 10:37 AM

PARIS, FRANCE - MARCH 17:  Prince William, Duke of Cambridge attends a reception at the British Embassy during day one of their visit on March 17, 2017 in Paris, France. (Photo by Ian Vogler - Pool/Getty Images)
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PARIS, FRANCE - MARCH 17: Prince William, Duke of Cambridge attends a reception at the British Embassy during day one of their visit on March 17, 2017 in Paris, France. (Photo by Ian Vogler - Pool/Getty Images)(Pool/Getty Images)

Prince William offered a message of support for the LGBT community Friday evening at the British LGBT Awards.

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The Duke of Cambridge, who was named "straight ally of the year" for the British lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities, spoke via a video message, according to the BBC. In the brief video, he talks about how he's become passionate about "protecting from bullying, particularly online." He said he's "encountered a number of tragic stories about LGBT young people who have sadly felt unable to cope with the abuse and discrimination they face in their lives."

Prince William concluded: "It is 2017, and nobody should be bullied for their sexuality, or for any other reason."