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Minnesota mean at heart of government shutdown

<p style="text-align: justify;">By JAMES HOHMANN | 7/3/11 7:09 AM EDT. APPLE VALLEY, Minn.—There once was a time when Minnesota held an exalted position in American politics. It was known as a model of good government, the kind of place that sent poets to the Senate and produced politicians with nicknames like “The Happy Warrior.” For the second time in six years, the state’s leaders failed Friday to agree on a budget in time to avert a government shutdown, marking Minnesota as one of just five states where government has ground to a halt in the last decade—and the only one where it’s happened twice. Read More

Cuba's tweeters gather to squawk about poor Internet

<p style="text-align: justify;">02-Jul-11, 9:47 AM | Reuters. HAVANA - Members of Cuba's small Twitter community gathered on Friday for the first time to put faces to names in a meeting where political viewpoints were off limits but complaints about the island's poor Internet connections were not.About 50 people showed up at a civic center in the Cuban capital for the event -- called #TwittHab -- organized by Leunam Rodriguez, a student and reporter at the state-run Radio Cubana. Read More

SF Girls Chorus Heading To Cuba Saturday

<p style="text-align: justify;">By Bay City News. July 1, 2011 1:02 PM. A San Francisco choral group that has performed at the Lincoln Center in New York and President Obama's inauguration in Washington, D.C., is adding a new tour location to which few Americans are privy: Cuba. The San Francisco Girls Chorus, comprised of Bay Area women ages 12 to 17, will embark Saturday on an eight-day trip to the island nation to give four concerts in various cities and attend three masters classes with renowned Cuban choral conductors. Read More

US issuing licenses for increased Cuba travel

<p style="text-align: justify;">Peter Orsi, Associated Press, On Friday July 1, 2011, 1:28 pm EDT. HAVANA (AP) -- Washington has begun issuing travel licenses that promise to bring thousands more U.S. visitors each year on legal trips to Cuba, just 90 miles off Florida but off-limits to most Americans.Nine tour operators have been granted licenses to run so-called people-to-people exchanges since May, said a U.S. Treasury Department spokesperson who was not authorized to be quoted by name on the matter. Read More

Analysts: Chavez illness sparks power struggle in Venezuela

<p style="text-align: justify;">By Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN. July 1, 2011 -- Updated 0904 GMT (1704 HKT) (CNN) -- With no heir-apparent to Venezuela's presidency waiting in the wings, politicians are jockeying for power as President Hugo Chavez undergoes medical treatment in Cuba, analysts said.The Venezuelan leader has kept a notably low profile in the nearly three weeks since officials first announced that doctors operated on him, sparking rampant speculation about his health and the country's political future. Read More

New Ways to Visit Cuba — Legally

<p style="text-align: justify;">By MICHELLE HIGGINS. Published: June 30, 2011. ALWAYS wanted to visit Cuba? Well now you can — legally. Cuba Travel Guide. Go to the Cuba Travel Guide. Thanks to policy changes by President Obama earlier this year designed to encourage more contact between Americans and citizens of the Communist-ruled island, the Treasury Department is once again granting so-called “people-to-people” licenses, which greatly expand travel opportunities for Cuba-bound visitors. Read More

Venezuela postpones summit due to Chavez's health

<p style="text-align: justify;">APBy IAN JAMES - Associated Press.&nbsp; CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuela's government postponed next week's summit of Latin American leaders Wednesday, citing President Hugo Chavez's health as he recovers from surgery in Cuba. The decision to put off the July 5-6 meeting until later this year was announced shortly after new videos aired on state television showing Chavez chatting with Fidel Castro in Cuba, appearing lucid and talkative. Chavez's televised appearance broke a long post-surgery silence that has prompted speculation about his health. Read More

U.S.: Some non-Mariel Cubans can be deported

<p style="text-align: justify;">By ALFONSO Cubans convicted of crimes in the United States who arrived before and after the 1980 Mariel exodus have been deported to their homeland because their names surprisingly appear in a 27-year-old repatriation agreement list.This week, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spokeswoman in Washington confirmed the 1984 list of names of Cubans who can be returned to the island includes some who did not arrive during the 1980 boatlift. Read More

CUBA: Microcredit Knocks on Door...Softly

<p style="text-align: justify;">Monday, June 27, 2011 5:47 AM. (Source: IPS - Inter Press Service)By Grogg, Patricia. 'Until about a year and a half ago, you practically couldn't talk about this issue, but now the situation is different,' a European diplomat told IPS. One of the entities feeling out the situation on the ground is the Italian National Committee for Microcredit. It has organised a couple of visits to Cuba, evidence that the subject of microfinance is drawing attention little by little in the context of development projects and an opening to the private sector, where international cooperation could play an important role. Read More

Cuba's new entrepreneurs ponder their future

<p style="text-align: justify;">By Gabriela Garcia Thursday, Jun 23 2011. It's a typical day in Buenavista, a heavily populated neighborhood in the coastal municipality of Playa, in Havana, Cuba. Along Calle 70, where a shaded promenade runs down the street, children play baseball with makeshift bats while couples canoodle on benches and older men slam dominoes on tables set up on the sidewalk.The neighborhood's state-run agricultural market, once sparsely stocked during the difficult days of the Special Period after the loss of Soviet Union subsidies, is now comparatively brimming with vegetables, flowers, and cuts of meat. And on either side of the promenade, the streets resemble a bustling marketplace. Read More

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