Cubans soon to continue north
Central American nations have reached a deal to let the first of thousands of stranded Cuban migrants continue their journey north toward the United States next month, officials said Monday. The humanitarian transfer will airlift an unspecified number of Cubans the first week of January from Costa Rica to El Salvador, from where they will continue by bus toward Mexico, Costa Rica's Foreign Ministry said in a statement. The Guatemalan government, which hosted a diplomatic meeting earlier in the day to consider the issue, described it as a "pilot" program and said a work group has been tasked with coordinating logistics. The number of Cubans stranded in Costa Rica has reached at least 8,000 since Nicaragua closed its border to them weeks ago. The islanders say they are trying to reach the United States, where favorable migratory policies toward Cubans mean nearly all are allowed to stay and apply for residency.
TSA can insist on full-body scanner
Under a new policy for screening airline passengers, Transportation Security Administration officers at the airport can now require that you go through a full-body scanner even if you ask for a pat-down search instead. The change in policy that began this month means that airline passengers can still ask TSA officers for a pat-down search instead of having to go through a full-body scanner that uses millimeter wave technology to disclose weapons hidden under clothing. But the TSA officers now have to right to deny your request for a pat-down search "if warranted by security considerations." If you refuse to go through the full-body scanner, the TSA can keep you from boarding your flight.
Bakery owners pay damages
Oregon bakery owners who denied service to a same-sex couple have paid $135,000 in state-ordered damages after refusing to do so for nearly six months. The Bureau of Labor and Industries said Aaron Klein, co-owner of the Portland-area bakery, dropped off a check Monday for $136,927.07. That includes accrued interest. Klein also paid $7,000 earlier this month. Damages were awarded in July for emotional suffering caused by Sweet Cakes by Melissa, which two years ago refused to make a wedding cake for Laurel and Rachel Bowman-Cryer. The bakers cited religious beliefs. A 2007 Oregon law protects the rights of gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender people in employment, housing and public accommodations. The state ruled it also bars private businesses from discriminating against potential customers.
Milan bans cars to ease smog
Bicyclists had free rein of the streets of Milan, Italy, on Monday during a six-hour ban on private cars in a bid to alleviate persistent smog. Pollution levels in Italy's business capital have exceeded levels considered healthy for more than 30 days straight, prompting officials to ban private cars from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Monday through Wednesday this week.
By the Numbers
3,988,076 Births in the United States in 2014, a 1 percent increase over the total in 2013, according the National Center for Health Statistics. The agency said it was a banner year for twins: The rate of twin births was 33.9 per 1,000, the highest ever.