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Formula One gives up on race in downtown Miami: Herald

The downtown skyline of Miami, Florida
FILE PHOTO - The downtown skyline of Miami, Florida November 5, 2015. REUTERS/Joe Skipper

April 24, 2019

(Reuters) – Formula One and local organizers have given up on plans to hold a race in downtown Miami because of the disruption for businesses and residents, the Miami Herald reported on Wednesday.

It said they were now looking into an alternative race location on land next to the Hard Rock Stadium, home of the Miami Dolphins NFL team, to the north of the Florida city.

“We want to do something great for Miami,” the paper quoted Tom Garfinkel, vice chairman and CEO of the Miami Dolphins and Hard Rock Stadium, as saying.

“Unfortunately when we finally received the detailed report of what it would take to build out a street circuit each year, the multiple weeks of traffic and construction disruption to the port, Bayfront Park and the residents and businesses on Biscayne Boulevard would have been significant.”

Formula One had hoped to add the street race to the calendar for this year but that was pushed back last July until at least 2020 as a result of emerging local opposition to the proposed harborside layout.

The sport’s owners Liberty Media say they want to make sure Miami, which has been offered a 10-year contract, has long-term viability with maximum local support.

The race would be a second grand prix in the United States after the one in Austin, Texas.

Miami Dolphins franchise owner Stephen Ross is supporting the project, with a company owned by the U.S. entrepreneur lined up as the potential promoter.

“A lot would have to happen for us to be able to do it,” said Garfinkel of the new proposal.

“But we have over 250 acres of land so adding an F1 race to where Hard Rock Stadium and the Miami Open sit means we can create a world-class racing circuit that is unencumbered by existing infrastructure.”

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Greg Stutchbury)

Source: OANN

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Nadal advances in Barcelona after dropping set to Mayer

ATP 1000 - Monte Carlo Masters
FILE PHOTO: Tennis - ATP 1000 - Monte Carlo Masters - Monte-Carlo Country Club, Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France - April 20, 2019 Spain's Rafael Nadal during his semi final match against Italy's Fabio Fognini. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

April 24, 2019

By Richard Martin

BARCELONA (Reuters) – World number two Rafael Nadal dropped a set at the Barcelona Open for the first time in four years before advancing to the last 16, beating Argentine Leonardo Mayer 6-7(7) 6-4 6-2 on Wednesday.

The Spaniard surrendered a 5-3 lead in the first set and then spurned two set points in the tiebreak, which Mayer, ranked 63 in the world, edged thanks to an impressive crosscourt forehand winner.

Nadal, who has won the Barcelona Open a record 11 times, had not lost a set in the tournament since being beaten by Fabio Fognini in the last 16 in 2015. He had won 30 sets in a row until he met Mayer.

Nadal was in danger of losing two consecutive matches on clay for the first time in his career following defeat in the Monte Carlo Masters semi-final to Fognini, but he bounced back immediately by breaking his opponent in the second set opener.

Nadal, who was playing on a court named after him, broke the Argentine twice more in the decider to set up an all-Spanish last 16 tie with David Ferrer.

“It wasn’t the best start, I wasn’t feeling at my best out there but I found a way to keep going and to win the match,” Nadal told reporters.

“All games are dangerous, especially when you lose the first set, anything can happen. You have to look at things in the most positive way and the most positive thing is to be able to play again tomorrow.”

Ninth seed Denis Shapovalov was knocked out by Chilean Christian Garin 7-5 6-2, while Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov made it through after seeing off Spaniard Fernando Verdasco 6-2 6-7(4) 6-3.

Ferrer beat Frenchman Lucas Pouille 6-3 6-1 while Argentine Guido Pella beat six-seed Karen Khachanov in straight sets.

Lucky loser Roberto Carballes Baena beat compatriot Nicola Kuhn in three sets after Fognini withdrew from the tournament following injury concerns after practising earlier in the day.

(Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Toby Davis and Pritha Sarkar)

Source: OANN

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South Korea economy unexpectedly contracts in first quarter, worst since global financial crisis

A man walks in a park at a business district in Seoul
FILE PHOTO: A man walks in a park at a business district in Seoul, South Korea, March 23, 2016. Picture taken on March 23, 2016. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

April 24, 2019

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s economy unexpectedly shrank in the first quarter, marking its worst performance since the global financial crisis, as government spending failed to keep up the previous quarter’s strong pace and as companies slashed investment.

Gross domestic product (GDP) in the first quarter declined a seasonally adjusted 0.3 percent from the previous quarter, the worst contraction since a 3.3 percent drop in the fourth quarter of 2008 and sliding from 1 percent growth in Oct-Dec, the Bank of Korea said on Thursday.

None of the economists surveyed in a Reuters poll had expected growth to contract. The median forecast was for a rise of 0.3 percent.

From a year earlier, Asia’s fourth-largest economy grew 1.8 percent in the January-March quarter, compared with 2.5 percent growth in the poll and 3.1 percent in the final quarter of 2018.

Exports fell 2.6 percent quarter-on-quarter, a sharper drop than the 1.5 percent decline in the previous three months.

Capital investment tumbled 10.8 percent to a 21-year low, while construction investment inched down 0.1 percent, according to the central bank.

(Reporting by Joori Roh, Cynthia Kim; Editing by Kim Coghill)

Source: OANN

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Anger over Brexit sparks new grassroots drive for Scottish independence

A Scottish flag flies between British Union Jack flag and European Union flag outside the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh
A Scottish flag flies between British Union Jack flag and European Union flag outside the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, Scotland, Britain, April 24, 2019. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

April 24, 2019

By Elisabeth O’Leary

EDINBURGH (Reuters) – Supporters of an independent Scotland will launch a new grassroots campaign on Thursday ahead of a possible second referendum on secession from the United Kingdom, hoping to harness Scottish voters’ anger over Brexit.

Scots rejected independence in 2014 and support since then has remained stuck at around 45 percent, opinion polls suggest. But Scots also voted to remain in the European Union in the 2016 Brexit referendum, in which England and Wales voted to leave.

Under the crowd-funded initiative “Voices for Scotland”, which has some 100,000 supporters, clipboard-wielding activists will fan out across Scotland to try to boost support for secession to the 50-60 percent range.

“I get the sense that we are in the death throes of the United Kingdom, that it is a very unstable construct,” Maggie Chapman, one of the leaders of Voices for Scotland and also co-convenor of the Scottish Greens, told Reuters.

The launch comes a day after Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the country would start preparing for a second referendum on independence before May 2021 without permission from London because of Brexit.

Britain is mired in political chaos after parliament rejected three times the withdrawal deal negotiated by Prime Minister Theresa May and other EU leaders, and it is still unclear when or even if it will leave the bloc.


“One of the things that ‘no’ or undecided voters said to me in 2014, in the run-up to that referendum (on Scottish independence) was ‘why, what do you want to change, the UK is fine as it is’,” said Chapman.

“Brexit tells us that the UK is not OK, not only in terms of economic legitimacy and power, but in terms of trust in politics,” she said.

Scotland’s “Yes” movement took support for independence to 45 percent in 2014 from around 23 percent in 2012.

The new initiative will train campaigners to go out and “listen to what people need to help them become supportive of independence, as well as to persuade them of its merits”, Voices for Scotland said in a statement.

It has so far raised about 100,000 pounds ($129,000) to train and support campaigners to spread the word on “every street in Scotland”, Chapman said.

Its aim is particularly to target those who are undecided about Scottish independence or “who support the union but have had their faith undermined by recent events.”

(Reporting by Elisabeth O’Leary; Editing by Gareth Jones)

Source: OANN

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Bank of England to refrain from rate hike until August 2020: NIESR

FILE PHOTO: A man walks past the Bank of England in the City of London
FILE PHOTO: A man walks past the Bank of England in the City of London, Britain, February 7, 2019. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

April 24, 2019

LONDON (Reuters) – The Bank of England is likely to keep interest rates on hold until August 2020 because of a slower global economy and prolonged uncertainty about Brexit, a leading think tank said on Thursday.

The National Institute of Economic and Social Research pushed back by a year its previous forecast of a BoE rate hike which it made as recently as February.

NIESR economist Garry Young said a weaker global economy, and its knock-in impact on oil prices and other imports, was impacting monetary policy around the world, while in Britain uncertainty about Brexit has also kept the BoE on the sidelines.

“Now we expect the first increase in Bank Rate to be next August rather than this August,” he said.

The weakness in prices of imports would help offset inflation pressure from rising wages at home, Young said.

Britain is facing more uncertainty about its future relationship with the European Union after a deadline for Brexit was delayed from April 12 until the end of October this month.

Last week, a Reuters poll showed most economists now expect the BoE to raise borrowing costs early next year.

The British central bank has raised rates twice to 0.75 percent from an all-time low of 0.25 percent but Governor Mark Carney said the outlook for the economy is now shrouded in the “fog of Brexit.”

NIESR trimmed its expectation for British economic growth this year to 1.4 percent from its February forecast of 1.5 percent. It expected growth to pick up to 1.6 percent in 2020.

The forecast was based on the assumption of a “soft” Brexit which avoids disruption at the Irish border and maintains a high degree of access to EU markets.

The growth outlook would be slower if Britain ends up in a customs union with the EU, as favored by the opposition Labour Party, or if the country leaves the EU without a transition deal, NIESR said.

(Writing by William Schomberg)

Source: OANN

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Japan’s incoming imperial couple offers the nation something new

FILE PHOTO : Japan's Emperor Akihito, Empress Michiko, Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako attend an autumn garden party at Akasaka Palace Imperial garden in Tokyo
FILE PHOTO : (L to R) Japan's Emperor Akihito, Empress Michiko, Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako attend an autumn garden party at Akasaka Palace Imperial garden in Tokyo, Japan November 9, 2018. Kazuhiro Nogi/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

April 24, 2019

By Elaine Lies

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s Crown Prince Naruhito and his wife, Masako, represent a lot of firsts for an imperial couple: university-educated, multilingual and with years of experience living overseas, during which Naruhito even did his own laundry.

As they prepare to carve out identities as Japan’s emperor and empress, hopes are high they will make the office both more international and more in touch with the lives of ordinary Japanese.

“I think there’s opportunities for this newest generation of imperial family members to embrace causes that push the envelope a little,” said Shihoko Goto, an analyst at the Wilson Center, citing the 55-year-old Masako’s experience as a diplomat.

“They have a unique background and they have the interest, I believe, and they should have the skill sets to be more engaged,” she added, noting how far the family has come from World War Two, when Emperor Hirohito was considered a god.

Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko reached out to ordinary people, especially to comfort them after disasters. Akihito’s abdication, the first in nearly 200 years, sparked discussion about whether that was the correct way to approach the role.

“There were clearly two views. One, that, like Akihito, the emperor must be active and interact with people, and the other, that all he needs to do is pray,” said an ex-royal household agency official. “But considering the future, I don’t think we have both options. An emperor who simply exists would not gain the trust and empathy of the people.”

Though Naruhito, 59, intends to carry on his parents’ work, he also says the monarchy needs to adapt. Observers said that could mean speaking up and reaching out more, leveraging the family’s value as part of Japan’s identity.

“Given these times, the imperial family should use things like social networking to express their opinions to a certain degree,” said Rika Kayama, a psychiatrist and author of a book on the imperial women.

“If not words, then photos on Instagram,” she added, noting Naruhito has posed for selfies with bystanders overseas and Masako in particular may have things she wants to express.

Masako’s long struggle with what palace officials term an “adjustment disorder” is on everybody’s mind, especially because it kept her out of the public eye for roughly a decade. By contrast, Michiko is often termed “flawless” in her dedication.

“When Masako visits disaster victims, they’ll feel she’s gone through hard times, like them,” said Hideya Kawanishi, assistant history professor at Nagoya University. “More than the sense of gratitude they have with Empress Michiko, it’ll be a sense of empathy. She’ll seem closer.”

Masako’s frequent expressions in birthday messages of concern for impoverished or troubled children suggest those are likely to be causes she will pursue.

Naruhito, who studied medieval river transport, is interested in water issues and conservation, and has hinted he may take up climate change as well.

“It plays to his interests, also the national interest, and a cross-border interest too. There are many issues like that … they have a unique platform they could really use,” Goto said.

“Things like the environment, or reaching across borders for greater understanding and dialogue at a time when the world is becoming myopic and insular.”

Patience will be needed in change-averse Japan, however.

“Even the current emperor and empress came in for lots of criticism at the start – for example, when Michiko got on her knees to console people and took their hands, she was criticized for ‘damaging the authority of the Emperor,'” Kawanishi said.

“So they’ll move gradually to put their imprint on things. They’ll change something, wait, then change again.”

(Additional reporting by Linda Sieg; Editing by Gerry Doyle)

Source: OANN

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Pompeo sees ‘bumpy’ North Korea talks, but hopes for several more chances

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks to the media at the State Department in Washington
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks to the media at the State Department in Washington, U.S., April 19, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

April 24, 2019

By David Brunnstrom

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday that U.S. talks with North Korea would be “bumpy,” but expressed hope there would be several more chances to discuss how to move forward to the country’s denuclearization.

In an interview with CBS News, Pompeo said North Korea’s possession of nuclear weapons put it at risk rather than making it safe.

The outcome hinged ultimately on whether North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made the strategic decision to give up his country’s nuclear weapons, Pompeo said.

“It’s an enormous challenge for that country to make its shift,” he said. “It has for an awfully long time told its people that those nuclear weapons were the thing that kept them secure. They now need to shift to the narrative to ‘those are the things that put them at risk.'”

He said both sides had learned a lot from a second summit between Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump in Hanoi in February, which broke down without agreement on the denuclearization demanded by the U.S. side and sanctions relief sought by the North Koreans.

Pompeo said that in Hanoi, “there was a lot more nuance to the conversation than just, ‘Hey they had a position, we had a position; we walked away.’”

“We hope we can build on that. … we’re very focused on getting the right set of incentives – for both sides – so we can achieve the objective. It’s going to be bumpy, it’s going to be challenging. I hope that we get several more chances to have serious conversations about how we can move this process forward.”

The future of U.S. engagement with North Korea has appeared to be in limbo since the Vietnam summit, with no sign of direct contact between the two sides, although Pompeo has said they have discussed how to move forward.

On Wednesday, Kim arrived in Vladivostok, Russia, for a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

With negotiations with Washington stalled, Pyongyang is looking for alternative sources of international support, including from Russia, and for possible relief from sanctions.

In the CBS interview, Pompeo brushed aside a call last week by a North Korea official for him to be replaced in talks by someone more mature, saying it had come from “a mid-level guy.” Pompeo said last week he would remain in charge of the U.S. negotiating team.

He did not respond to reports saying his North Korean counterpart in previous talks, Kim Yong Chol, had been sidelined since Hanoi.

(Reporting by David Brunnstrom; Editing by Peter Cooney)

Source: OANN

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White House principal deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley struck back at CNN host Anderson Cooper on Friday, a day after having a contentious interview with the journalist, saying he would not be lectured by a member of the mainstream media who has been “lying” about President Trump.

“First of all, I’m not going to take a lecture on truth-telling from anybody in the mainstream media who has been lying about this president for the last two years, telling the American people that Donald Trump committed treason which is a crime punishable by death as you well know,” Gidley told “Ingraham Angle” host Laura Ingraham.


On Thursday, Cooper and Gidley went back and forth over the release of the long-awaited Mueller report.

The report showed investigators did not find evidence of collusion between the 2016 Trump presidential campaign and Russia but did lay out an array of actions taken by the president that were examined as part of the investigation’s obstruction inquiry.

At one point during the interview Cooper asked Gidley if the president lied.

“No, i’m not aware of him lying. He hasn’t lied to me,” Gidley responded.

“I feel bad that you’re scared to say that your boss lied,” Cooper later added.

Gidley accused CNN of wanting accusations of collusion between the president and Russia to be true.


“The point is, for me to sit there with CNN and listen to them, who they wanted this to be true so badly. So many in the media did, and I understand why they don’t drop it,” Gidley said.

“Because if they did, they would be admitting the fact that the last two years of their life was a complete and total waste.”

Fox News’ Paulina Dedaj contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

Chen Yulu, vice governor of the PBOC, attends a news conference during ongoing session of the NPC in Beijing
Chen Yulu, vice governor of the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), attends a news conference during the ongoing session of the National People’s Congress (NPC) in Beijing, China March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Jason Lee

April 13, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Protectionism has harmed mutual trust among countries and limited the scope for multilateral cooperation, a vice governor of China’s central bank said on Saturday, taking a swipe at the Trump administration’s “America First” trade policies.

Chen Yulu, a vice governor at the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), urged the International Monetary Fund to continue supporting a rules-based multilateral trade system as tariffs play “only a limited role” in fixing bilateral trade imbalances.

“The protectionism of some countries has harmed mutual trust among countries, limited the scope for multilateral cooperation, and impeded the willingness to achieve it,” Chen said in a statement to the IMF’s steering committee during the IMF and World Bank spring meetings in Washington.

“Unilateralism and protectionism can only exacerbate domestic imbalances and impair necessary structural adjustments, which can negatively affect the countries concerned as well as global growth,” he said.

Chen also said China will continue to implement “prudent monetary policy and proactive fiscal policy,” to ensure its economic growth remains stable.

The comments came as Beijing and Washington seek a deal to end a bitter trade war marked by tit-for-tat tariffs that have cost the world’s two largest economies billions of dollars, disrupted supply chains and rattled financial markets.

Rising hopes of an agreement recently have lifted global stock prices, though the IMF has warned that failure to reach an agreement could trigger a big market backlash.

“Uncertainties from trade frictions, the negative impact of tariff increases on trade, and the disruptions of global supply chains have gradually emerged,” Chen said.

“Trade friction can also dampen market confidence, which in turn amplifies financial market volatility and has an impact on economic growth,” he said.

(Reporting by Leika Kihara; Editing by Paul Simao)

Source: OANN

A U.S. judge in Oregon said Tuesday he intends to at least partially block a rule change by President Donald Trump’s administration that could cut off federal funding for providers who refer patients for an abortion, though the scope of his decision remains to be seen.

U.S. District Judge Michael McShane made the comments after more than three hours of arguments in a lawsuit brought by 20 states and the District of Columbia, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported . The states say the rule change, due to take effect May 3, is a transparent attack on Planned Parenthood and a violation of the Affordable Care Act, which prohibits “unreasonable barriers to the ability of individuals to obtain appropriate medical care.”

“At the heart of these rules is an arrogant assumption that the government is better suited to direct women’s health care than their providers,” Oregon Public Broadcasting quoted the judge as saying.

McShane said he needs more time to decide whether he will issue a national injunction or a more limited one blocking the policy from taking effect. The judge said he’s reluctant to set national health care policy and would describe the scope of his injunction in a written opinion soon.

“We will need to see what the final ruling says,” Oregon Justice Department spokeswoman Kristina Edmunson said in an email. “We are pleased with the decision.”

Under the new policy, health care providers that receive federal funding would be barred from referring patients for an abortion. Programs that receive the money would also have to be in a separate physical space from facilities where abortion is performed.

The rule change announced early this year concerns Title X, a family planning program created in 1970 which serves roughly 4 million low-income Americans every year. Clinics that receive money under Title X provide a wide array of services, including birth control and screening for diabetes, sexually transmitted diseases and cancer.

Abortion is a legal medical procedure, but federal laws prohibit the use of taxpayer funds to pay for abortions except in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the woman. Religious conservatives and abortion opponents have long complained that Title X has been used to indirectly subsidize abortion providers.

“Title X grant funds are a true safety net for low income individuals and those who would not be able to access care, due to a lack of insurance or other barriers,” Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum told the judge. “Put simply, this is an attempt to politicize what has been a successful, non-political public health program for 50 years.”

U.S. Justice Department lawyer Andrew M. Bernie said there was nothing in the administrative record to suggest the change was politically motivated.

But the judge was not swayed. McShane suggested it would be “insane” for a man to go to his doctor seeking a vasectomy, only to be referred to a fertility clinic.

Several other lawsuits have also challenged the new policy. California and Washington have sued separately; arguments in the latter case are scheduled for Thursday in U.S. District Court in Yakima.

Source: NewsMax Politics

Democrats in the House and Senate have reintroduced legislation to direct the Internal Revenue Services to create a free tax-filing service available to the public online, The Hill reports.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., a candidate for president in 2020, is a lead sponsor of the Senate bill, the Tax Filing Simplification Act.

“Taxpayers waste too many hours and hundreds of dollars on tax preparation each year, which disproportionately burdens low-income and minority taxpayers,” she said in a statement. “This bill will require the IRS to offer easy, free, online tax-filing for all taxpayers. This is a simple idea with a long history of support from both Republicans and Democrats, and it’s time to make it a reality.”

Her fellow presidential candidates Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Cory Booker, D-N.J., joined her and other senators in offering the bill. Reps. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Katie Hill, D-Calif., joined to reintroduce the House bill.

“Millions of Americans each year who are eligible for cash refunds like the Earned Income Tax Credit don’t claim them — either because tax filing is too complicated, or they don’t know they’re eligible,” said Adam Ruben, the director of Economic Security Project Action. “This creates a system where only the wealthiest Americans can afford to take advantage of the tax breaks and deductions available to them. Senator Warren’s Tax Filing Simplification Act is a commonsense improvement that would make tax filing easier and more fair, and mean millions more hardworking Americans will get the refunds like the EITC they’re entitled to.”

Source: NewsMax Politics

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro speaks next to Cuba's President Miguel Diaz-Canel during their meeting at the Miraflores Palace in Caracas
FILE PHOTO: Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro speaks next to Cuba’s President Miguel Diaz-Canel, wearing a Venezuelan flag sash, during their meeting at the Miraflores Palace in Caracas, Venezuela May 30, 2018. REUTERS/Marco Bello

April 17, 2019

By Zachary Fagenson, Matt Spetalnick and Lesley Wroughton

MIAMI/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Trump administration on Wednesday imposed new sanctions and other punitive measures on Cuba and Venezuela, seeking to ratchet up U.S. pressure on Havana to end its support for Venezuela’s socialist president, Nicolas Maduro.

Speaking to a Cuban exile group in Miami, U.S. national security adviser John Bolton said the United States was targeting Cuba’s military and intelligence services, including a military-owned airline, for additional sanctions and was tightening travel and trade restrictions against the island.

Bolton’s speech followed the State Department’s announcement on Wednesday that it was lifting a long-standing ban against U.S. citizens filing lawsuits against foreign companies that use properties seized by Cuba’s Communist government since Fidel Castro’s 1959 revolution.

President Donald Trump’s decision, which the State Department said could unleash hundreds of thousands of legal claims worth tens of billions of dollars, drew swift criticism from European and Canadian allies, whose companies have significant interests in Cuba.

The Cuban government, which could be hindered in its efforts to attract new foreign investment, denounced it as “an attack on international law.”

Taking aim at Venezuela, Bolton said the United States was also imposing sanctions on the country’s central bank, restricting U.S. transactions and prohibiting access to dollars by an institution he described as crucial to keeping Maduro in power. Bolton also announced new sanctions on Nicaragua.

While accusing Cuba of propping up Maduro with its security forces in the country, Bolton also used the opportunity to issue a warning to “all external actors, including Russia,” against deploying military assets to support the Venezuelan leader.

“The United States will consider such provocative actions a threat to international peace and security in the region,” Bolton said, noting that Moscow recently sent in military flights carrying 35 tons of unknown cargo and a hundred military personnel.

However, Cuba appears unlikely to be budged by the Trump administration’s demands to dump Maduro, a longtime ally of Havana, and Maduro has also shown little sign of losing the loyalty of the Venezuela military despite tough oil-related U.S. sanctions on the OPEC member-nation.

“No one will rip the (fatherland) away from us, neither by seduction nor by force,” Cuba’s President Miguel Diaz-Canel wrote on Twitter. “We Cubans do not surrender.”


Amid Venezuela’s political and economic crisis, opposition leader Juan Guaido invoked the constitution in January to assume the interim presidency. The United States and most Western countries have backed Guaido as head of state. Maduro, backed by Cuba, Russia and China, has denounced Guaido as a U.S. puppet.

Bolton, a longtime Cuba hardliner, was frequently interrupted by applause in his address to an organization of veterans of the U.S.-backed Bay of Pigs invasion on the 58th anniversary of the failed operation to overthrow Cuba’s Communist government. His speech was a sequel to one he made late last year branding Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua a “troika of tyranny.”

Bolton’s announcements included further measures aimed at rolling back parts of the historic opening to Cuba, an old Cold War foe, under his predecessor, Barack Obama.

The Obama administration’s approach, he said, “provided the Cuban regime with the necessary political cover to expand its malign influence and ideological imperialism across the region.”

Among the Cuba measures announced by Bolton was the reinstatement of limits on U.S. citizens sending remittances to Cuba at $1,000 per person per quarter, and other changes aimed at ending the use of transactions that he said allows Havana to circumvent sanctions and obtain access to hard currency.

Remittances from the United States have surged since Obama started easing restrictions on them in 2009, becoming an important part of the Cuban economy and fueling the growth of the private sector by providing start-up capital.

He said the United States would also further restrict “non-family” travel by Americans to Cuba – though he offered no details – and cited military-owned Cuban airline Aerogaviota among the five names being added to the U.S. sanctions blacklist.

The Trump administration has previously sought to curtail Venezuela’s subsidized oil shipments to Cuba.

Also on Wednesday, Bolton announced that Washington was imposing sanctions on Nicaragua’s Bancorp and on Laureano Ortega, a son of President Daniel Ortega.

(Reporting by Zachary Fagenson in Miami and Matt Spetalnick and Lesley Wroughton in Washington; Additional reporting by Makini Brice, David Alexander and Doina Chiacu in Washington; Sarah Marsh and Marc Frank in Havana;Philip Blenkinsop and Jan Strupczewski in Brussels; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

Source: OANN

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