Wednesday, April 15, 2015

What’s Going On Around The World Today?


President Obama officially endorsed removing Cuba from America’s State Sponsors of Terrorism list. Ordinary Cubans and government officials alike welcomed the move, saying the island-nation should never have been included on the list. The decision paves the way to restoring full diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba. Obama’s endorsement follows a historic meeting with Cuban President Raúl Castro last weekend at the Summit of the Americas in Panama. It was the first meeting between the leaders of both countries in more than 50 years.

Cuba will be officially removed after a 45-day review period, during which Congress can try to block the removal. To do so, lawmakers will have to vote on a separate piece of legislation, a move the White House seems to think is unlikely, according to the Washington Post .

A Cuban gives the thumbs up from his balcony decorated with the US and Cuban flags in Havana, on January 16, 2015.

Yamil Lage / AFP / Getty Images

Quickly catch up. The U.S. State Sponsors of Terrorism list is a special designation applied to nations the U.S. alleges provides support to acts of terrorism. The U.S. can impose unilateral sanctions on the listed countries. Cuba was added to the list in 1982, with the U.S. arguing that the country had consistently made efforts to “promote arms revolution by organizations that used terrorism,” according to the AP. If Cuba is removed from the list, there will be three countries left: Syria, Iran, and Sudan.

European regulators have formally accused Google of using its dominant position in the online search market to stifle competition, Specifically, Google is accused of favoring its own services, particularly online shopping, over rivals during web searches performed on its search engine. Google’s search engine powers roughly 90% of Europe’s internet use, according to the New York Times . There will be a separate investigation into Google’s Android software, which has roughly an 81% market share — compared to Apple’s 15 and Microsoft’s less than 3% share.

If the charges are proven, Google would face fines of up to $6.6 billion, which is about 10% of Google’s most recent annual revenue.


Congress will likely weigh in on the Iran nuclear deal, after a bill allowing the Republican-controlled Congress to review the deal received support from both the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Obama administration. The bill is a compromise for President Obama, who has been pressured by lawmakers wanting to be formally involved in this historic deal — particularly, to block it if necessary. The Senate committee’s action could make Obama the only leader in the negotiations who may not be able to fully uphold the terms of the deal, according to the New York Times .

What’s next? If passed, the bill would give Congress 52 days to review the final version of the nuclear deal, which is expected to come in June. They could prevent the Obama administration from lifting economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for the country limiting its nuclear program.

Demonstrators marched in protest of police brutality yesterday in several U.S. cities, leading to at least a dozen arrests. The marches took place in more than a dozen cities, including New York, San Francisco, and Wisconsin. They were sparked by the April 4 shooting death of Walter Scott, an unarmed black man, by a white police officer in North Charleston, South Carolina, and the death of Eric Harris, another unarmed black man, who was shot and killed by a reserve officer in Oklahoma over the weekend. These demonstrations echo a larger national protest movement spurred in part last year by grand juries in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York City deciding not to file charges against white police officers who had killed unarmed black men.

What’s next? Walter Scott’s death has also inspired advocates to push for the release of more police video footage capturing high-profile shootings. Video footage played a critical role in the fight over police misconduct in the Walter Scott killing. Advocates for police accountability believe it can help bring clarity to other cases as well.

A protester is seen Tuesday in downtown Seattle.

Ted S. Warren / AP


Inside the White House’s war against unions, activists, and progressives over President Obama’s trade agenda. The groups have united against a “fast track” provision that would allow the president to negotiate trade deals and give Congress a simple up-or-down vote. BuzzFeed News reports on the apocalyptic warnings, arm-twisting, classified briefings, and secret phone calls the Obama administration is using to break the progressive coalition fighting them on trade deals.

An Egyptian court ruled that the government can block LGBT people from entering the country. Yesterday’s ruling gives the interior minister the power to protect “the general benefits, religious values, social morals of society and to prevent the spreading of social ills” and deport people accused of homosexuality. The ruling comes amid an ongoing crackdown on LGBT rights by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s government.

The for-profit Corinthian Colleges will face a nearly $30 million fine for lying to students. The Education Department will fine Corinthian Colleges $29.6 million for “substantial misrepresentations” to students at its Heald College chain, citing examples of defrauding students about job placement rates. The department’s action against Heald could help students seeking debt relief on the tens of thousands of dollars they incurred in loans at Corinthian schools, BuzzFeed News’ Molly Hensley-Clancy reports.

Former and current students of the Corinthian Colleges network, some pictured above, refused to pay back loans to the for-profit company.

Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

HBO began fighting a multi-million dollar defamation trial over a documentary segment about illegal child laborers in India. The cable network is being sued by Mitre Sports International, a sports equipment manufacturer that says HBO falsely depicted the company employing young Indian children to hand-stitch soccer balls. The segment aired in September 2008. HBO called the lawsuit’s basis “materially false” and claims to have evidence that Mitre uses child labor all over the world.

Kind bars can’t be labelled as “healthy,” says the Food and Drug Administration. The agency found several versions of Kind bars, which are aggressively marketed as a nutritional snack bar, to be in violation of requirements that warrant a “healthy” label. The FDA requires products have less than 1 gram of saturated fats for the label, but one of the bars has 3.5 grams, BuzzFeed’s Javier Moreno writes. The FDA has issued a warning letter to Kind, and may order grocery stores to pull the snack bars off the shelves. The company has said they are now working to comply with the appropriate FDA health requirements.

KIND Healthy Snacks

It’s Tax Day in America! Two things to keep in mind if you haven’t filed your taxes yet: If you’re under 24, ask your parents if they’re claiming you as a dependent (this could save them money). And if you’re still in college, remember to take advantage of credits that could bag you a bigger tax return. For more tips, check out BuzzFeed’s “What Every Twentysomething Needs To Know About Taxes.”

Quick things to know:

  • Guam has been advised to begin processing same-sex marriage applications “immediately" (BuzzFeed News)

  • Hundreds of commercial planes flying today could be vulnerable to hacks, according to a new U.S. government report (CNN)

  • Netflix is rolling out a narration track feature to help visually-impaired users better know what’s happening on screen (The Next Web)

  • U.K. scientists have built a drone with artificial intelligence modelled after bees (Motherboard)

  • Only 14% of teenagers think Facebook is the most important social network — it’s beaten out by Twitter and Instagram (BuzzFeed News)


The International Space Station’s coffee game has so far been weak: There’s only instant, and each astronaut gets three freeze-dried pouches of the stuff a day. But that will all change soon enough as NASA is planning to send up a space-appropriate espresso maker called the “ISSpresso,” according to NPR . It’s designed in part by the Italian coffee company Lavazza. Why leave Earth without good coffee?

20th Century Fox / via Giphy

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