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Q&A: A lesson in Cuban embargo history

Former Cuban President Fidel Castro. Today Cuba is governed by Castro’s brother, Raul.

Times files (1977)

Former Cuban President Fidel Castro. Today Cuba is governed by Castro’s brother, Raul.

History behind Cuban embargo

Why is there an embargo on Cuba? I was in my early teens when it started and can't remember.

Months of uncertainty followed the 1959 Cuban revolution, with Fidel Castro at first declaring that while a socialist, he was not a communist. Within a year, however, it was clear that Castro was establishing a communist government aligned with the Soviet Union on the southern doorstep of the United States.

Relations between Cuba and the United States steadily worsened. The Eisenhower administration imposed a limited trade embargo on Cuba, and after the failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion, President John F. Kennedy in 1962 imposed a wider-ranging embargo. Codified into law in the 1990s, it persists with some exceptions for humanitarian aid.

The Obama administration recently announced it would allow unlimited travel and money transfers by Cuban-Americans to family in Cuba, but with the exception of an opening for telecommunications companies, the trade embargo remains in place with the stated goal of pressuring the Castro regime to free political prisoners.

Experts believe the Obama administration will continue to loosen the restrictions.

Pat O'Brien, 'Insider' part ways

What happened to Pat O'Brien on The Insider? I know he had substance-abuse problems, but thought he had that under control.

According to the New York Post, after a trip to Iowa last fall, O'Brien sent an e-mail to colleagues that said in part: "These people can't afford gas, books, food or schools or movies! I was approached a hundred times by people asking, 'Can you help us?' I tried to tell them we care, but they didn't buy it. They wanted to, but watching Anya (Sarre) and Lara (Spencer) pick out accessories makes the viewers want to vomit."

O'Brien rather abruptly left the show soon after, with the show issuing a statement saying "we have decided to part ways." This was just the latest trouble for O'Brien, who has reportedly made several trips to rehab.

O'Brien resurfaced in April as a guest judge on Oxygen's Pretty Wicked series.

At age 94, actor has long resume

Is actor Harry Morgan still alive?

Morgan turned 94 this year, and has an amazing resume. He likes to tell the story of his wife being reminded that he had been in Charlton Heston's first movie (Dark City, 1950). "Harry was in everyone's first movie," she replied.

He worked onstage and in films as well as on TV. And on TV, besides guest-starring roles and miniseries, he was a regular on December Bride, Pete & Gladys, The Richard Boone Show, Kentucky Jones, Dragnet, The D.A., Hec Ramsey, M*A*S*H*, AfterMASH, Blacke's Magic and You Can't Take It With You.

Q&A: A lesson in Cuban embargo history 05/11/09 [Last modified: Monday, May 11, 2009 6:23pm]

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