New guidelines for travel to Cuba
The U.S. Treasury Department on Thursday issued new guidelines for travel to Cuba. Most Americans are still barred from legally visiting Cuba, except for specific purposes that are outlined in the guidelines. Technically, it's not illegal for Americans to visit Cuba. They just can't spend money there, under a longstanding U.S. trade embargo. The biggest change in the rules is restoring licenses for so-called people-to-people educational exchanges, which the Bush administration had suspended several years ago. Other changes affect rules for educational travel, religiously oriented travel and journalism-related travel, among other types of travel to Cuba. The changes also expand the number of airports allowed to provide charter air service to Cuba.
Storm brings rain to area hit by wildfire
With a light drizzle falling over areas west of Fort Worth where firefighters have been battling one of several wildfires burning in Texas, crews were trying to make progress in containing one of the blazes Thursday. Crews have been trying to contain a week-old wildfire in the Possum Kingdom Lake area about 70 miles west of Fort Worth that has blackened nearly 150 square miles of fields and woods and destroyed at least 160 of the community's 3,000 homes. Gov. Rick Perry has proclaimed a three-day period, from today through Sunday, as Days of Prayer for Rain in the state.
Recall petitions filed against senators
Wisconsin recall organizers Thursday added three Democratic state senators and one GOP senator to the list of lawmakers in line for recall elections over their opposition to or support of Republican Gov. Scott Walker's law curtailing collective bargaining rights for public employees. Committees to recall Democrats Dave Hansen, Jim Holperin and Robert Wirch filed the signatures needed with the Government Accountability Board. All three groups had thousands more signatures than required to trigger a recall election. Hours later, the committee to recall Republican Alberta Darling submitted 30,000 signatures to trigger her election.
Absolute Poker promises refunds
Offshore online operator Absolute Poker, facing shutdown because of federal charges of bank fraud and money laundering, said it is reviewing options with lawyers before moving to refund balances to its players in the United States. Absolute Poker said in a statement Thursday that its first priority is refunding money in accounts with its site and UB.com, which is on the same network. Both domains were seized by the FBI on Friday.
Some birth control pills raise clot risk
Women who use birth control pills made with the hormone drospirenone, such as Bayer's Yasmin, are three times more likely to develop blood clots than those who take an older oral contraceptive, a study has found. The overall risk of developing a clot in the lungs or legs was still low for women using drospirenone, according to the study published today in the British Medical Journal. The research examined British database reports on almost 300 women. The results support earlier findings from European studies that drospirenone appears to have a higher risk of clots compared with the older levonorgestrel, according to the U.S. and New Zealand researchers.
Bomb found near church; 19 arrested
Indonesia was in a state of high alert Thursday after the arrest of 19 terror suspects led police to a 330-pound bomb buried beneath a gas pipeline near a church in the city of Serpong, southwest of Jakarta. Senior Security Minister Djoko Suyanto said he believed Islamic militants had been plotting an attack outside the capital during Good Friday celebrations. "The army and police are under high alert," he told reporters. Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, was thrust onto the front lines in the battle against extremists in 2002 after al-Qaida-linked militants attacked two nightclubs on Bali island, killing 202 people, many of them foreign tourists.
Martelly officially declared president
Michel Martelly, a popular singer known by the stage name "Sweet Micky," was officially declared the next president of this earthquake-devastated country, election officials said. Martelly, 50, won the presidency with 67.6 percent of the vote, defeating rival candidate and former first lady Mirlande Manigat, Haitian electoral commission spokesman Pierre Thibault said. Martelly, a master of Haiti's compas music before he became a presidential candidate, is to be inaugurated on May 14. As Haiti's newly elected president, he will be tasked with leading a multibillion-dollar reconstruction effort following last year's magnitude-7 earthquake, which claimed 300,000 lives and displaced hundreds of thousands of Haitians.
Ugandan food protests grow violent
Riots broke out in downtown Kampala on Thursday as another round of street demonstrations over commodity prices spread after a leading opposition politician Kizza Besigye was arrested for the third time in two weeks, significantly heightening tensions. President Yoweri Museveni addressed the nation on Thursday, defending his government's action against protesters. Demonstrations over rising food and fuel prices started two weeks ago, spearheaded by politicians who lost to Museveni in elections in February.