Saturday, June 12, 2010

Official presidential portrait of Barack Obama...Image via Wikipedia
The US and Cuba to hold immigration talks in Washington within days...

HAVANA – The United States and Cuba have agreed to hold immigration talks in Washington within days, a U.S. official said Saturday, the first since a similar meeting in Havana in February.

The talks scheduled for Friday are intended to monitor adherence to a 16-year-old agreement under which the United States issues 20,000 visas to Cubans a year, though in the past the sides have used the meeting to delve into more contentious issues.

In the last round of talks, U.S. diplomats pressed Cuba to release Alan Gross, a jailed American contractor that Cuba has accused of spying. Gross has been jailed for more than 6 months without charge.

The American delegation also met with dissidents in Havana, raising the ire of Cuban officials.

The latest round of talks will take place at an as-yet undetermined location in Washington, Gloria Berbena, a spokeswoman for the U.S Interests Section in Havana, told The Associated Press. The U.S. maintains the Interests Section instead of an embassy.

After a brief period of hope that U.S. President Barack Obama would usher in a new era of rapprochement with America's longtime Caribbean foe, relations between the United States and Cuba have been on a downward trajectory for some months.

Fidel Castro, once a grudging admirer of the president, has been harshly critical lately of everything from Obama's work at global climate change talks, to America's backing of Israel, to the use of American soldiers as part of relief efforts in quake-ravaged Haiti.

Cuba was particularly angry when Washington included the island on a list of state sponsors of terrorism back in December.

For its part, U.S. officials have made clear that there is little hope for improved relations while Cuba holds Gross. They have also continued to call on Fidel and his brother, President Raul Castro, to open up the island's political system to democratic reform. Cuba insists that the U.S. drop its 48-year trade embargo and stop meddling in the island's internal affairs.

Despite the lukewarm relations, there have been far more contacts between U.S. and Cuban officials than in years past. The State Department confirmed bilateral talks a few weeks ago on how to respond to the Gulf oil spill, which could threaten Cuban shores. And American and Cuban officials have met to discuss ways to coordinate aid to Haiti.

Acknowledgements: Associated Press

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Friday, June 11, 2010

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...Image via CrunchBase
Kiwi police looking at internet giant Google..

New Zealand police are looking into the actions of internet giant Google.

The Privacy Commissioner has asked the police to investigate Google's recent gathering of personal wireless internet data during its street view operation.

The commission and the police have recently met to discuss Google's possible breach of the Crimes Act after concerns about reports it collected WiFi information while photographing houses and streets for its mapping service.

Google has admited collecting WiFi data in more than thirty countries.

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Nelson Mandela.Image via Wikipedia
Nelson Mandela's great-granddaughter tragically killed in car crash on eve of World Cup

 Nelson Mandela's 13-year-old great-granddaughter was tragically killed in a car crash on the way home from a concert in Soweto on the eve of the World Cup, his office said.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation said Zenani Mandela died in a one-car accident and no one else was injured. No other details on the crash were immediately available.

Zenani, who celebrated her 13th birthday June 9, was one of the anti-apartheid icon's nine great-grandchildren.

"The family has asked for privacy as they mourn this tragedy," the foundation said in a statement.

- AP

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Tuesday, June 08, 2010

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