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Cubans go to polls in first step toward post-Castro future

Cuba polls
Cuban voters line up outside a polling station in Santa Clara. Photo by YAMIL LAGE/AFP/Getty Images.

Nearly 7 million Cubans, or 78.5% of eligible voters, participated in one-party parliamentary elections Sunday that will ultimately help choose the nation's next president, reports Telesur. Those elected to the 605 member National Assembly will vote April 16 to choose a new Council of State, a 31-member executive body headed by the president.

  • Why it matters: Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel is widely expected to be named president, marking the first time in six decades that someone not named Castro will rule Cuba.
  • But, but, but: Sunday's one-party elections indicate the Communist government will remain firmly in power for the foreseeable future, especially as Raúl Castro continues to serve as secretary of the party. Even as the island's economy flounders under the weight of international sanctions, Diaz-Canel is expected to carry out the same agenda Cuba has followed for the past 60 years.
Khorri Atkinson 7 hours ago
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NYT: Mueller witness tried to influence White House on Gulf states

Interviews and previously undisclosed documents revealed that a witness in Robert Mueller's probe had worked for over a year to convert a Republican fundraiser into a White House influencer to help usher in deals on behalf of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the New York Times reports.

The backdrop: George Nader, a political adviser of the U.A.E. and Elliott Broidy, the RNC's deputy finance chair, reportedly urged the White House to dismiss Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's support of combative approaches to Iran and Qatar. In another case, Nader promised Broidy over a $1 billion in contracts for his private security company in exchange for deals.

David Philips 9 hours ago
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Russian obstruction on Syria at UN Security Council demands response

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein speaking during a press conference at the UN Offices in Geneva.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini / AFP via Getty Images

Russia used a procedural vote on Monday to prevent UN Human Rights Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein from presenting on human rights conditions in Syria to the UN Security Council (UNSC).

Why it matters: To date, Russia has vetoed nine resolutions aimed at intensifying pressure on Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, moves that not only counter U.S. interests but undermine the international system.