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Inside Daily Brief (Nov 8th, 2017)

The Trump administration announced new rules restricting travel and business with Cuba. Effective Thursday, the changes bar most individual visits to the communist-ruled country. Travelers will only be able to visit in groups registered with the U.S. government, when accompanied by a tour guide. Americans will no longer be allowed at certain hotels, restaurants and other enterprises that the State Department linked to Cuban security, military and intelligence agencies. The restrictions reverse many of the regulatory changes implemented by the Obama administration to open up travel and diplomatic relations with Cuba. - LATIMES

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One of the African-American cadet candidates targeted by racist slurs at the U.S. Air Force Academy is the person who wrote the messages, an investigation has confirmed. The incident in late September prompted Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria to give an impassioned speech about racism that drew national attention. On Tuesday, the academy announced that the perpetrator is one of the five candidates who found the slurs written on message boards outside their dorm rooms. “The individual admitted responsibility and this was validated by the investigation,” an academy spokesman said. The Colorado Springs Gazette reported that the person, who is no longer enrolled at the school, “committed the act in a bizarre bid to get out of trouble he faced at the school for other misconduct.” - WAPO

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Maine's governor said he will not implement a Medicaid expansion approved by voters until it is fully funded by the state. Maine voters on Tuesday approved a referendum to expand Medicaid to thousands of low-income individuals, becoming the first state to do so. The initiative "is seen as a bellwether for continuing support of the Affordable Care Act," NPR reported. Republican Maine Governor Paul LePage has vetoed several attempts to expand Medicaid there as part of the Affordable Care Act. “Credit agencies are predicting that this fiscally irresponsible Medicaid expansion will be ruinous to Maine’s budget,” LePage said in a statement on Wednesday. He said that his administration won't approve the expansion "until it has been fully funded by the Legislature at the levels [the Department of Health and Human Services] has calculated." He also declined to raise taxes, reduce services or raid the state's rainy day fund to cover the costs. - THEHILL

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A federal judge has issued a gag order in the criminal case involving former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and campaign aide Rick Gates. The order effectively bars all parties from making statements that could influence jurors. U.S. District Judge Amy Jackson said the order is intended "to safeguard defendants' rights to a fair trial, and to ensure that the court has the ability to seat a jury that has not been tainted by pretrial publicity." Manafort and Gates remain under house arrest after pleading not guilty last month to charges of conspiracy, money laundering and acting as unregistered foreign agents. The charges were filed as part of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible complicity by the Trump campaign. - POLITICO

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More than 50 Tamil men seeking asylum in Europe said they were abducted and tortured by Sri Lanka’s government. The Associated Press conducted interviews and reviewed medical and psychological documents before reporting the allegations on Wednesday. The men are from the Tamil minority ethnic group, with populations in India, Sri Lanka and other countries. In interviews, they said that they were beaten, branded and sexually assaulted starting in early 2016 and as recently as July 2017. Some men allowed AP to photograph scars on their chests, legs and groins. “The levels of sexual abuse being perpetuated in Sri Lanka by authorities are the most egregious and perverted that I’ve ever seen," a human rights investigator said. - AP

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Spain’s Constitutional Court has officially annulled Catalonia’s declaration of independence. In a ruling made Wednesday, the court called the regional parliament's declaration in late October "a serious attack on the rule of law." The court said Catalonia cannot confuse its right to autonomy with sovereignty. Also on Wednesday, pro-independence supporters “blocked roads and stopped commuter trains” to protest the detaining of some Catalan officials. Regional elections in Catalonia are scheduled for December 21. - ALJAZEERA

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A former television anchor has accused actor Kevin Spacey of assaulting her teenaged son. Heather Unruh, a longtime Boston anchor, outlined the allegations in a press conference on Wednesday. She said that Spacey and her son were at a bar in Nantucket, Massachusetts last year. She claimed that Spacey purchased several alcoholic drinks for her son, who was 18 at the time. Once her son was intoxicated, Unruh alleged that Spacey put his hands down his pants and on his genitals. The allegations incited a public outcry on Twitter. "Listening to Heather Unruh painfully share with the world the horror of her son’s unwanted sexual nightmare at the hands of Kevin Spacey...I weep," actor Ron Perlman tweeted. - USAT

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A new study found that most human rights abuses committed by military officers fighting drug cartels in Mexico go unpunished. Between 2012 and 2016, 16 soldiers were convicted out of 505 criminal investigations, according to the Washington Office on Latin America study. The report found that civilian investigations of the military are hampered for several reasons, including lack of testimony and soldiers who provide false testimony. “The civilian justice system faces challenges — including military authorities’ actions resulting in the obstruction or delay of investigations — which limit civilian authorities’ ability to sanction soldiers implicated in crimes and human rights violations,” the report said. On Wednesday, the Mexican government said its Attorney General's Office is working on "structural and institutional changes" that address human-rights issues. - AP

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Italian police have arrested two alleged human smugglers in connection with the deaths of 26 Nigerian women and girls. Al Mabrouc Wisam Harar from Libya and Mohamed Ali Al Bouzid from Egypt are accused of human trafficking. Authorities believe that the victims, aged 14 to 18, were abused and murdered while trying to cross the Mediterranean. Autopsy results are due out soon, reports said. - TIME

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A Kansas City museum has found a grasshopper embedded in a Vincent Van Gogh painting. The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art said the bug was discovered in the lower foreground of the artist's famed "Olive Trees." The insect is only visible under magnification. "Van Gogh worked outside in the elements, and we know that he, like other plein air artists, dealt with wind and dust, grass and trees, and flies and grasshoppers," the museum director said. In an 1885 letter, Van Gogh wrote to his brother that "I must have picked up a good hundred flies and more off the 4 canvases that you'll be getting." - GUARDIAN

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