Online searches for trips to Cuba are up a staggering 95 per cent following US President Barack Obama's plans to re-develop relations between the two countries.
Tourists are being warned that if they want to see 'the real Cuba' they should book their trips now, before the Caribbean country becomes 'Americanised.'
President Obama announced a 'new chapter' in US relations with Cuba, with plans announced by the White House include easing access for US citizens, lessening financial restrictions, and lifting the 54-year-old trade embargo.
In a year-end news conference before Russian and foreign media, President Vladimir Putin predicted Thursday a recovery in two years despite a looming recession, crashing ruble and growing fears about the financial instability. "Rates of growth may be slowing down, but the economy will still grow and our economy will overcome the current situation," Putin said. "I believe about two years is the worst-case scenario. After that, I believe growth is imminent." He said the West is demanding too many concessions from Russia. "They are trying to chain the bear. And when they manage to chain the bear, they will take out his fangs and claws," he said. "This is how nuclear deterrence is working at the moment." read more
Although President Barack Obama is taking the credit for Wednesday's historic deal to reverse decades of U.S. policy toward Cuba, when Hillary Clinton was secretary of state, she was the main architect of the new policy and pushed far harder for a deal than the Obama White House.
From 2009 until her departure in early 2013, Clinton and her top aides took the lead on the sometimes public, often private interactions with the Cuban government. According to current and former White House and State Department officials and several Cuba policy experts who were involved in the discussions, Clinton was also the top advocate inside the government for ending travel and trade restrictions on Cuba and reversing 50 years of U.S. policy to isolate the Communist island nation. Repeatedly, she pressed the White House to move faster and faced opposition from cautious high-ranking White House officials.
Noah Shachtman, Daily Beast: The Obama administration is withholding hundreds, perhaps even thousands of photographs showing the U.S. government's brutal treatment of detainees, meaning that revelations about detainee abuse could well continue, possibly compounding the outrage generated by the Senate torture report now in the public eye. Some photos show American troops posing with corpses; others depict U.S. forces holding guns to people's heads or simulating forced sodomization. All of them could be released to the public, depending on how a federal judge in New York rules -- and how hard the government fights to appeal. The government has a Friday deadline to submit to that judge its evidence for why it thinks each individual photograph should continue to be kept hidden away. read more
The Senate approved a sweeping $1.1 trillion spending bill Saturday night to fund most of the federal government through the next fiscal year.
A small group of conservatives, led by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), had sought to slow debate on the bill by raising concerns with Obama's immigration policy, forcing a marathon weekend session. The move infuriated their colleagues, particularly Republicans who complained that forcing senators to stay in session produced nothing positive for the GOP and only helped Democrats in their bid to approve a final batch of Obama's nominees for government posts.