World Affairs

AP Photo/Desmond Boylan

The Obama administration punched a new series of holes in the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba on Tuesday, turning a ban on U.S. tourism to Cuba into an unenforceable honor system and paving the way for Cuban athletes to one day play Major League Baseball and other U.S. professional sports.

Christopher Collier / WUSF News

To call an American president's visit to Cuba 'historic' doesn't reflect the rarity of the occasion.

In January 1928, President Calvin Coolidge arrived in Havana via the USS Texas, a warship. 'Talkies' was still a phrase people used when referring to movies with sound. It has been almost 90 years since that visit.

Steve Newborn / WUSF News

Tampa Congresswoman Kathy Castor just returned from a fact-finding mission to Cuba.  She says she's  more committed than ever to getting Congress to lift the embargo on the island nation.

Castor stood in front of a plaque at Tampa's MacFarlane Park honoring famous Cuban-Americans who lived in West Tampa. There, she praised President Obama's announcement that he'll become the first sitting president to visit Cuba in 80 years. Castor says she expects the president to talk extensively with Cuban leaders about easing restrictions on human rights violations by the Communist regime.

White House

President Barack Obama said Thursday his history-making visit to Cuba next month was part of an effort to “improve the lives of the Cuban people. He vowed to press the communist government on human rights and other policy differences.

For half a century, only charter flights have been allowed to ferry people from the U.S. into Cuba.

But today, the two cold-war foes will agree to let regular U.S. commercial flights land in the communist island: 20 a day into Havana and 10 daily into nine other Cuban cities.

Ehud Barak
Steve Newborn / WUSF News

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak  spoke Monday night at a meeting of the Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee.

He says that the deal to prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons should last for at least five years - but after that, it's anyone's guess.

This afternoon Haiti once again postponed its presidential runoff election.

The vote – originally slated for last month – was going to be held on Sunday. But Haitian election officials said they canceled it because it was too hazardous. Street protests have gotten violent in recent days, with demonstrators condemning what they call a fraudulent and incompetent electoral process.

Contemplations in Old Havana
Steve Newborn / WUSF News

The easing of travel restrictions to Cuba could unleash a torrent of 'Yanqui' tourists, something that has the potential to transform a poor island that is rich in history, architecture and natural beauty.

WUSF's Steve Newborn visited Cuba with Sarasota-based Sea to Shore Alliance before the United States embassy reopened. He takes us on a tour of Old Havana and sees what is being done to prepare for a possible influx of newcomers.

Since President Obama opened a door to Cuba, there's been progress in the past year. Americans can travel there. The two countries reopened their embassies and have agreed to re-establish commercial air travel.

But on the financial front, progress has been slow. After a year, there's just one U.S. financial institution doing business with Cuba — and it's a small bank in Pompano Beach, Fla.

Wikipedia Commons

The family of the late gangster Meyer Lansky is hoping to be compensated for a Havana casino hotel seized after Cuba's 1959 revolution, now that the countries have begun trying to resolve billions in dollars in claims for the confiscation of American properties by the island's socialist government.

Lansky's family sees an opportunity to reclaim the Habana Riviera or its cash equivalent.

"The hotel was taken from my grandfather forcefully," said Lansky's 60-year-old grandson, Gary Rapoport, of Tampa. "Cuba owes my family money."

President Obama and French President François Hollande promised to increase cooperation and expand attacks against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

During a joint press conference with Hollande at the White House, Obama said that the United States and France "owe our freedom to each other."

After the Paris attacks, Obama said, "our hearts broke too."

"In that stadium, concert hall, restaurants and cafes we see our own," Obama said. "Today we stand with you."

AP Photo/Esteban Felix

PENAS BLANCAS, Costa Rica — As summer began to bake the central Cuban city of Sancti Spiritus, Elio Alvarez and Lideisy Hernandez sold their tiny apartment and everything in it for $5,000 and joined the largest migration from their homeland in decades.

Steve Newborn / WUSF News

Gov. Rick Scott today sent a letter to members of Congress asking them to block the use of federal tax dollars to resettle an estimated 425 Syrian refugees in the state.

Gov. Scott sent the letter to the new Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and members of the Florida Congressional delegation.

He joins at least 12 other governors who say they will not accept Syrian refugees in their states in response to Friday's attacks in Paris.

At a news conference in Turkey on Monday, President Obama defended his administration's strategy against ISIS, calling Friday's deadly terrorist attacks in Paris "outrageous." He said, however, the U.S. would not send additional ground troops into Syria to combat the Islamic State.

Updated 4:25 a.m. ET Monday:

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls tells French radio RTL that there have been more than 150 raids throughout the night in France. More are expected.

Sunday's post:

As France observed its first of three days of national mourning, police said they were looking for a suspect who they believe may have been involved in the coordinated attacks that left scores dead in Paris on Friday.

The morning after gunmen and explosions left at least 128 people dead and hundreds more wounded in Paris, ISIS has released a statement claiming responsibility for the attacks, according to jihadist-monitoring group SITE Intelligence.

Updated 11:29 p.m. ET

Paris prosecutor Francois Molins says there have been six attacks in and around the city, and the death toll could exceed 120. The majority of those killed were in a concert hall.

NPR's Eleanor Beardsley reports that French police stormed and took control of a concert hall, and two attackers there were killed. Molins says at least five attackers in total have been killed.

If you could start selling something in Cuba that would be a sure-fire money maker, what would it be?

Probably something that hasn't been widely available for more than 50 years in the state-controlled economy. A product for which there's pent up demand and one that would surely spruce up the place after decades of neglect.

Mexican businessman Jaime Murow Troice is already selling it: paint.


By midnight, the basement of one of Havana's hottest clubs is packed wall-to-wall for a private concert by one of Cuba's biggest pop stars.

The view in the parking lot of Havana's airport
Steve Newborn / WUSF News

The easing of travel restrictions to Cuba could unleash a torrent of 'Yanqui' tourists, something that has the potential to transform a poor island that is rich in history, architecture and natural beauty.