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So-called authorized travel — visits to Cuba for a wide range of allowed purposes, including business, religious, educational and people-to-people exchange — can now include family members, and travelers can open Cuban bank accounts.

A University of South Florida event Thursday called “Violent Extremism in the Greater Middle East and the Implications for U.S. Foreign Policy”  will address the pending nuclear deal with Iran and how to deal with the growing threat of the Islamic State, or ISIS.

WUSF's Steve Newborn discusses what to expect with USF Professor Mohsen Milani.

Carribean American Civic Movement photo

Europe and the U.S.-Mexico border aren't the only frontiers being crossed by migrants. Thousands of Haitians are being deported from the neighboring Dominican Republic, and one local group is trying to help some of those those left behind.

A looming vote on a nuclear deal with Iran, one of President Barack Obama's top priorities, has Florida Democrats in a bind.

More than a month after Obama announced the agreement, veteran U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson is Florida's sole Washington lawmaker openly backing the plan.

Other Democrats --- including U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who also serves as chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee --- are biding their time. Exceptions are U.S. Reps. Ted Deutch and Alcee Hastings, who condemned the accord.

More than 600 Florida guardsmen are on their way to the horn of Africa.  They’ll participate in Operation Enduring Freedom.

It's the tourist mantra these days: Get to Cuba before it loses its 1950s nostalgia and turns into a capitalist tourist trap.

This week saw 54 years of Cold War-era hostilities warm up in the Caribbean sun: On Monday, Cuba and the U.S. reopened embassies in each other's capitals, a major step in the normalization of relations between the long-time foes.

AP

A GOP-controlled Senate panel has voted to lift a decades-long ban on travel to Cuba, giving a boost to President Barack Obama's moves to ease travel restrictions and open up relations with the Castro-governed nation.

AP

Now that Cuba has an embassy again in Washington, D.C., consulates could be coming to serve its people, most of whom live in Florida. Miami and Tampa have the closest historical ties to the island, but they have very different things to say about the idea.

Officials in Miami want no part of a consulate. Their politically powerful Cuban-American population is heavily influenced by those who fled Fidel Castro's 1959 communist revolution and have campaigned against the Castros for five decades since then, sometimes violently.

The United Nations Security Council has unanimously endorsed the nuclear deal struck between Iran, the United States and five other world powers, the AP and Reuters are reporting.

Under the terms of the deal, the toughest sanctions put in place against Iran by the world body would be dismantled in exchange for restrictions on some of the country's nuclear activities.

(This post was last updated at 10:45 a.m. ET.)

After 54 years of animosity, the United States and Cuba have formally restored diplomatic ties.

That means that the U.S. opened an embassy in Havana and Cuba opened an embassy in Washington, D.C., this morning.

With the United States and Cuba inching closer to fully restoring diplomatic ties, including reopening embassies for the first time in 54 years, the future is murky for tens of thousands of Cuban immigrants who have been ordered by immigration authorities to leave the country.

As many as 25,000 Cubans living in the United States have outstanding deportation orders, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. They include people who pose a threat to national security or have serious criminal convictions and are considered priorities for immigration enforcement agents.

Since Washington announced the restoration of diplomatic ties with Havana last December, the treasury department has also issued ferry licences to at least two U.S. companies. Trips to Cuba from Spain by government officials and business leaders have jumped this year as Spain rushes to make the most of what is becoming a more open economy on the Caribbean island.

As Congress begins deliberations about the agreement, opponents will relentlessly lobby legislators to reject the deal on the grounds that it has not closed all pathways to a nuclear bomb and has legitimized Iran as a threshold nuclear power. But they will not be able to offer a viable alternative to it. Should Congress vote to reject the agreement anyway, Obama has promised to veto their decision.

Is it a good deal?

President Obama and his detractors are headed for a ferocious debate on this question following the nuclear agreement announced Tuesday in Vienna between Iran and six world powers.

Steve Newborn / WUSF News

A crowed overflowed the Sociedad La Union Marti-Maceo on Seventh Avenue in Ybor City late Sunday in a joint tribute with Cuban officials to the legacy of Jose Marti, considered the father of Cuban independence.

The afternoon opened with a speech extolling the virtues of Marti - who spent a great deal of time organizing cigar workers and Cuban ex-patriots in Ybor City - by Rafael Polanco Brahojos, Director of the Sociedad Cultural Jose Marti.

Soviet Veteran on Honor Flight to Washington, D.C.

Apr 22, 2015
Photo Courtesy of Russian-American Community Center of Florida

It's been almost 70 years since the end of World War II. 

Thinking back on the war holds many memories for Alex Farfel, 85, who on Tuesday joined a group of 80 other World War II veterans at St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport for a special trip.  

Honor Flight West Central Florida regularly takes veterans on an all-expenses-paid, one-day flight to Washington, D.C. 

The veterans visited Arlington National Cemetery and memorials built to honor their service during the war.

Pope Francis, who plans to visit the United States in September, might tack onto his itinerary a side trip to Cuba, the Vatican says, but it cautions the talks with Havana are at an early stage.

The Catholic Herald quotes Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi as saying Francis is "considering the idea of a Cuba leg."

The Herald notes:

  Rob Valle used to fly fighter jets for the U.S. Navy. Now he flies charter flights for his company Air Key West. Since late March that has included a weekly scheduled flight from Key West International Airport to Havana. He fits nine passengers, including one in the co-pilot seat next to him. They pay $525 for the round-trip flight.

Imagine a U.S. President came to the Summit of the Americas and, while criticizing the government of a certain oil-rich South American nation, remarked that he does enjoy Venezuelan salsa singers like Rubén Blades.

He’d be the butt of jokes on late-night Latin American TV – because Blades is Panamanian, not Venezuelan.

Poll: Cuban-Americans' Opposition to Normalizing Relations Softening

Apr 4, 2015

Are Cuban-Americans softening their views toward the hated Castro regime that continues to rule the island 90 miles from Key West?

Perhaps not, but a new poll from a Miami-based firm suggests that opposition to President Obama's initiative opening new ties with the Communist country is softening. A bare majority of Cuban-Americans back Obama's move, but that doesn’t mean anti-Castro politics aren't still a winner in Florida.

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