News You Should Read Today – February 18 – 2016

US approves first American factory in Cuba in 5 decadesObama to visit Cuba in March

President Obama is planning on traveling to Cuba in March, the White House says. Obama’s trip to Cuba will be officially announced on Thursday, and is set to take place March 21 to 22, before he flies to Argentina.

It’s been more than a year since Obama announced the U.S. was starting to normalize relations with Cuba, and just a few days ago the countries signed an agreement to restore commercial air traffic between the U.S. and Cuba for the first time in five decades. The last, and only, sitting president to visit Cuba was Calvin Coolidge in 1928. ABC News via The Week



US Presidential election newsUS Presidential election

An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released Wednesday night found a new frontrunner in the Republican presidential race: Ted Cruz. Cruz had the support of 28 percent of GOP primary voters nationwide, versus 26 percent for Donald Trump — a 7-point tumble for Trump from the January NBC/WSJ poll. Marco Rubio came in third with 17 percent, followed by Gov. John Kasich at 11 percent, Ben Carson at 10 percent, and Jeb Bush at a new low of 4 percent. Most national polls show Trump comfortably in the lead. “When you see a number this different, it means you might be right on top of a shift in the campaign,” said Republican pollster Bill McInturff. Or, this could be “a momentary ‘pause’ before the numbers snap back into place.” NBC News


Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio slammed President Barack Obama for his reported plans to visit Cuba next month. Speaking at a town hall Thursday in South Carolina, the presidential hopefuls, who are both of Cuban descent, each said they would not visit the Communist-run country. VOA



At least 28 killed in car bomb attack in TurkeyAt least 28 killed in car bomb attack in Turkey

At least 28 people were killed and dozens more were wounded when a car bomb exploded in the Turkish capital of Ankara on Wednesday.

The bombing occurred in the administrative heart of downtown Ankara on a busy intersection of a street lined with military vehicles. The attack, which the Turkish military has condemned as an act of terrorism, comes as Turkey struggles to contain the sectarian violence stemming from the Islamic State’s influence in neighboring Syria. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack. Reuters



Apple to oppose iPhone court orderEx-NSA, CIA chief Hayden sides with Apple

Apple and the FBI are gearing up for a public and legal battle over FBI Director James Comey’s demand that Apple give the FBI a tool to break the passcode on San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook’s iPhone, a tool Apple argues create a “backdoor” around the iPhone’s security.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai sided with Apple on Wednesday, but Apple CEO Tim Cook also got a more surprising endorsement from Gen. Michael Hayden, former NSA director (1999-2005) and CIA chief (2006-2009). When it comes to encryption, “I think Jim Comey’s wrong,” Hayden told The Wall Street Journal. He added that he could win the pro–encryption argument on both national security grounds — “America is simply more secure with unbreakable end-to-end encryption” — and for the “broad health of the United States.” The Week

Upcoming US-South Korean military exercise to be largest everUpcoming US-South Korean military exercise to be largest ever

South Korean defense officials say the upcoming annual military drill with the United States will be the largest ever, a sign of growing tensions with North Korea over its recent tests of nuclear and ballistic missile weapons programs.

Defense Minister Han Min-koo said Thursday that about 15,000 U.S. troops will take part in the annual Key Resolve and Foal Eagle exercises when they begin next month, which is twice the number from last year. Yonhap news agency said Wednesday the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier John C. Stennis will take part in the annual drills, which Pyongyang always claims are preparation for a northward invasion.

South Korean intelligence officials have informed lawmakers that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has ordered preparations for terror attacks on South Koreans. A member of South Korea’s ruling party told reporters Thursday the National Intelligence Service believes the attacks could target anti-North Korean activists, defectors and South Korean government officials. Subways, shopping malls and power stations are also potential targets. VOA

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