Xpat Weekly Update: The 5 Most Important Global Stories This Week

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1. White House Eases Restrictions on Cuba Travel

The White House moved Tuesday to end major restrictions on Americans traveling to Cuba, and on Cuba’s use of U.S. dollars for international transactions, ahead of President Obama’s historic trip to Havana next week. The change is significant not only for the expected tsunami of tourist dollars expected to flow into Cuba, but also because it paves the way for American companies to re-enter the Cuban market. Obama’s easing of the restrictions, combined with his visit, may finally mark the end of America’s decades-long Cold War with Cuba. That struggle dates back to the days when Khrushchev ruled a USSR that no longer exists.

Los Angeles Times

2. Super Tuesday Results Point to Trump vs. Clinton in November

Sweeping victories by Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton in the March 15 suite of primaries make both their parties’ presumptive nominees, and set the stage for what many political observers feel will be one of the nastiest and most personal races to November in recent history.

While a theoretical path to the nomination exists for both Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders, the number of upcoming contests they would need to win suggests it will be extremely difficult. Two other unlikely scenarios also do exist: a procedure at the Republican convention to knock Trump aside in favor of another candidate, and some sort of indictment against Clinton coming out of the FBI investigation into her use of a private email server while secretary of state.

New York Times

3. Putin Orders Withdrawal From Syria

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Monday that “the main part” of Russian armed forces in Syria would start to withdraw, telling his diplomats to push for peace as U.N.-mediated talks resumed on ending the five-year-old war. The U.S. claimed it received no advance notice of Putin’s plan.

Western diplomats meanwhile speculated that Putin may be trying to press Assad into accepting a political settlement to the war, or is simply engaging in a propaganda exercise. Putin is also hedging his bets — he gave no deadline for the completion of the withdrawal and said forces would remain at a seaport and airbase in Syria’s Latakia province. Russian airstrikes will also continue in some form.


4. Third Car bomb Hits Ankara; Terror Act in Ivory Coast

At least 37 people were killed and more than 70 hospitalized after a car bomb struck the Turkish capital. It was the second mass-casualty blast to rock Ankara in three weeks, and the third since October. While there have been no claims of responsibility, Kurdish involvement is a reasonable guess. Turkey is struggling to contain its own domestic Kurdish population, while fighting Kurdish groups on both its eastern and southern borders. Turkey’s air force, for example, hit Kurdish targets in Iraq on Monday.

Meanwhile, terrorism also struck the Ivory Coast, where al Qaeda gunmen left 22 dead. Among those killed were four Westerners, including a French and a German national. No U.S. citizens were harmed.

Al Jazeera

5. Swedish Running Club Helping Refugees Build New Lives

In a week of troubles, there is some good news out of Sweden, news that may also help other European nations deal successfully with the flow of Syrian refugees. A few volunteers have taken it upon themselves to teach new refugees some of Sweden’s favorite sports, including cross country skiing, and running. The project has helped develop a bond between the residents of the nearby town of Östersund and more than 500 refugees to date, giving them the common ground of sports to build relationships upon. A bonus — the refugees, most of whom have never seen snow before, are growing more comfortable with all that white stuff.

The Guardian

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