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‘I Understand You Found Paradise in America’

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[VIDEO] Exclusive Footage: In Historic Cuba Visit, President Obama Visits Modern Havana


U.S. to Start Talks with Cuba to Normalize Full Diplomatic Relations, Open Embassy

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Steps to restore ties with Cuba are certain to meet resistance by some groups, particularly the Cuban community in South Florida that remain staunchly opposed to the communist leadership in Havana

Brian Murphy reports: The United States and Cuba will begin talks to normalize relations, including opening an embassy in Havana and putting to rest one most enduring Cold War standoffs, a U.S. official said Wednesday.

The landmark initiatives appeared to be set in motion by a surprise prisoner swap that freed American contractor Alan Gross after five years in custody in Cuba. In exchange, the United States would release three Cubans jailed for espionage, the Associated Press reported.

President Obama was expected to make a statement on Cuba at noon. At the same time, Cuban President Raul Castro was scheduled to address his nation about relations with the United States, Cuban state television reported.

Possible moves to close the rifts would mark a significant moment in Western Hemisphere politics.

The United State has maintain various sanctions against Cuba for more than five decades and enmity between Washington and Havana has played a role in affairs across the world — from snubs against the United States from Cuba’s allies in Latin America to the hero’s welcome given to then-President Fidel Castro during a visit to Tehran in 2001.

“President Obama’s actions have vindicated the brutal behavior of the Cuban government.”

— Senator Marco Rubio

At the moment, the United States and Cuba do not have full diplomatic relations, but allow interest sections to handle outreach.

The U.S. official said Gross departed Cuba on a U.S. government plane earlier Wednesday. He was released on humanitarian grounds by the Cuban government at the request of the United States, the official said.

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The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

There was no immediate comment from the White House.

Gross, 65, was detained in December 2009 while setting up illegal Internet access as a subcontractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development. It was his fifth trip to Cuba to work with Jewish communities on setting up Internet access that bypassed local censorship. Read the rest of this entry »


Staging: Michael Corleone’s Pistol of Destiny

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A photograph from the set of The Godfather (1972) Actors Al Lettieri (left) and Al Pacino (right). With an unidentified stage hand, or property master, seen here preparing for the scene where Michael Coreleone avenges his father’s assassination attempt. Leaving behind any chance of a legitimate life, free from the family’s criminal empire, Michael embraces his true destiny: heir to his father’s throne.

How did the good son become the ambitious, cold-blooded fratricidal killer and criminal mastermind we all know and love? First, by volunteering to shoot these two guys.

Besides great cinematography, the sound design in this scene is fantastic, the way it amplifies the tension. The audible train sounds, contributing to the suspense, right before Michael exits the bathroom, after retrieving the hidden weapon, never fails to impress me.

Killing Sollozzo and McCluskey

From this one audacious murderous act, Michael Corleone‘s dark ascendance begins. Brilliantly staged by Francis Ford Coppola, not only one of America’s most celebrated film directors, but also one of the great dramatists of the 20th century.