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President Obama releases statement on Fidel Castro's death

President Barack Obama released a statement on the death of former Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

In the statement, Obama offers condolences while acknowledging the history between Cuba and the United States. Obama notes that during his presidency, he worked on establishing more cordial relations with Cuba.

>>Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro dead at 90

>>World reaction to Castro's death

In March, Obama traveled to Cuba and met with President Raul Castro. Air travel restrictions between the two countries have been eased, with commercial flights resuming in August, a result of the Obama administration's new diplomatic policy with Cuba.

World reacts to death of Fidel Castro

Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro died Friday night at the age of 90. 

Current Cuban leader and younger brother Raul Castro announced the news on state television.

>>Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro dead at 90

>> Read more trending stories

Cuba's government announced that Castro will be cremated, and his ashes would be interred on Dec. 4 in Santiago, the birthplace of his revolution. 

>>Photos: World reaction to Castro's death

>>Photos: Fidel Castro through the years

The death of Castro has generated reaction from around the world. 

<iframe src="//;border=false" width="100%" height="750" frameborder="no" allowtransparency="true"></iframe> <script src="//;border=false"></script> [View the story "World reacts to Fidel Castro's death" on Storify]

Key dates during the Fidel Castro era in Cuba

Here are some key dates in Cuba since Fidel Castro came to power in January 1959:

Jan. 1, 1959 — Castro's rebels take power as dictator Fulgencio Batista flees Cuba.

Jan. 7, 1959 — The United States recognizes the new Cuban government.

May 8, 1960 — Diplomatic relations between Cuba and the Soviet Union resume.

 Oct. 19, 1960 — Washington bans exports to Cuba, other than food and medicine.

Jan. 3, 1961 — U.S. breaks diplomatic relations with Cuba after Cuban government demands a drastic reduction in U.S. Embassy staff within 48 hours.

April 16, 1961 — Castro declares Cuba a socialist state.

April 17, 1961 — Bay of Pigs: CIA-backed Cuban exiles stage failed invasion.

Feb, 7, 1962 — Washington bans all Cuban imports.

Oct. 14-26, 1962 — U.S. blockade forces removal of Soviet nuclear missiles from Cuba. U.S. President John F. Kennedy agrees privately not to invade Cuba.

Mar. 13, 1968 — Castro's government takes over almost all private businesses under the banner of the Great Revolutionary Offensive.

April 1980 — Mariel boatlift: Cuba says anyone can leave; some 125,000 Cubans flee.

December 1991 — Collapse of Soviet Union devastates Cuban economy.

August 1994 — Castro declares he will not stop Cubans trying to leave; some 40,000 take to sea heading for United States.

Nov. 19, 1996 — Pope John Paul II receives Castro at the Vatican. The Pope accepts an invitation to visit Cuba.

 July 31, 2006 — Castro announces he has had an operation, temporarily cedes power to his brother Raul.

Feb. 19, 2008 — Castro resigns as president.

July 2010 — Castro re-emerges after years in seclusion, visiting a scientific institute, giving a TV interview, talking to academics and even taking in a dolphin show at the aquarium.

April 19, 2011 — Castro is replaced by his brother Raul as first secretary of the Communist Party, the last official post he held. The elder Castro made a brief appearance at the Congress.

April 19, 2016 —Castro delivers a valedictory speech at the Communist Party's seventh Congress, declaring that "soon I'll be like all the others. The time will come for all of us, but the ideas of the Cuban Communists will remain."

Nov. 25, 2016 — Fidel Castro dies.

Information from The Associated Press and the U.S. Embassy was used in this report.

5 arrested for planning terror attack in Paris

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Five men were arrested this week in France after investigators found they were planning a terror attack in the country, Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said Friday.

>> Read more trending stories  

According to the Associated Press, the men, two of whom were French citizens, were arrested in two French cities: Strasbourg and Marseille.

The attack was planned to be executed as early as Dec. 1, and the men were receiving orders from an Islamic State group member based in Iraq or Syria, Molins said.

Investigators found weapons during home searches and recovered plans to obtain ammunition, instructions for a money handover and a notebook with details of death in martyrdom.

Molins said the men hadn't chosen a specific target, but they had "common instructions to obtain weapons (and) instructions given by a person from the Iraqi-Syrian zone through encrypted applications popular among terrorists" and a "clear will to find and to identify targets to commit an act in the very short term." 

The men were detained after a long-term investigation by French intelligence services, and the Paris prosecutor asked magistrates to hand the five preliminary charges of taking part in a terrorist criminal association and to jail them.

France remains under a state of emergency that was imposed after Islamic State attacks in Paris in November 2015 that killed 130 people.

Read more at the Associated Press.

Thanksgiving 2016 travel forecast: Here’s how to check your flight; see travel conditions

If you are headed to the airport Wednesday to travel to a Thanksgiving celebration with family and friends, you may want to take a minute to check your flight status.

A quick way to do that is to use the website The site offers flight tracking, news on cancellations and specific  airport delays and a “misery map” that shows regions of the country where delay times could be the longest.

If you are traveling on Wednesday, the national forecast shows a chance of weather-related airport delays in the Northwest and through the middle of the country.

According to the American Automobile Association, upwards of 49 million people will be traveling at least 50 or more miles for Thanksgiving. 

7 things to know now: Vote recount urged; Trump picks Haley for U.N.; overtime rule blocked

Here's a roundup of news trending across the nation and world today.

What to know now:

1. Haley at the U.N.: South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, has been tapped to be Donald Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations, according to several sources. Haley, 44, is now in her second term as governor. The announcement is expected to be made by Trump's transition team Wednesday afternoon.

2. Calling for a recount: Some computer scientists are urging Hillary Clinton’s campaign to call for a recount of votes across three Midwestern states. According to the scientists, they believe they have found evidence that vote totals in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania could have been manipulated or hacked. According to several reports, the scientists have told John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign chairman, about their suspicions. The group says Donald Trump won by disproportionate amounts in counties in those states  that use electronic voting. Polling expert Nate Silver disagrees, saying race and education levels made the difference in the voting, and that once there were controlled for in the results, the apparent disparity “disappears.”

3. Trump says no to alt-right: In an interview with The New York Times, president-elect Donald Trump says he disavows and condemns the white supremacy group “alt-right.” Trump also said he did not understand why his election has “energized” the group whose members have been heard yelling “Heil Trump,” in a comparison with Nazi support of Adolf Hitler.

4. Dalai Lama is ok with Trump: The Dalai Lama said Wednesday he has "no worries" about a Donald Trump presidency. The exiled Tibetan spiritual leader who won the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize said he thinks Trump will adjust his policies to  global realities as his term goes on. He says he looks forward to meeting Trump. 

5. Overtime rule blocked: A federal judge Tuesday blocked an Obama Administration rule that would have extended eligibility for overtime pay to around four million Americans. The new overtime rule, set to go into effect on Dec. 1, required employers to pay time-and-a-half to employees who worked more than 40 hours in a given week if they earned less than $47,476 a year. The rule had been challenged by 21 states, the Chamber of Commerce and other business groups.

And one more

A new study shows that when it comes to the worst drivers in the country, Texas and Louisiana top the list. The report analyzed information from the National Transportation Safety Administration on careless driving, fatality rates per miles driven in the state, drunk driving, failure to obey (such as stopping at stop signs), and speeding. Other states in the top 10 included Alabama, Nevada and Delaware.

In case you missed it

Dog Mannequin Challenge: Winning.

7 things to know now: School bus crash kills 6 kids; Trump video; Kanye West hospitalized

Here's a roundup of news trending across the nation and world today.

What to know now:

1. Driver charged: The driver of a school bus that crashed in Chattanooga, Tenn., Monday has been arrested and charged with vehicular homicide. At least six elementary school children were killed and more than 20 injured in the crash. Police say the driver, Johnthony Walker, was also charged with reckless driving and reckless endangerment. Police said they are looking at speed "very, very strongly" as a factor in the crash.  

2. Suspect was angry: A man who ambushed a San Antonio Police officer as he wrote out a traffic ticket says he shot the officer because he was mad with the court system for not allowing him to see his son. Otis Tyrone McKane told reporters as he was being arrested, "I've been through several custody battles, and I was upset at the situation I was in, and I lashed out at someone who didn't deserve it.” McKane said he wanted to apologize to the family of the officer.  

3. Trump video: President-elect Donald Trump has released a video message outlining his plan for “putting America first” which includes withdrawing from trade agreements that don’t benefit the country, reworking regulations on energy production and focusing on abuses in the visa programs. Trump said in the video, “Whether it’s producing steel, building cars or curing disease, I want the next generation of production and innovation to happen right here, on our great homeland: America – creating wealth and jobs for American workers.”  

4. Medal of Freedom: Twenty-one people are set to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Tuesday at the White House. Among those to be awarded America’s highest civilian honor are celebrities and sports figures including Tom Hanks, Diana Ross, Loren Michaels, Michael Jordan and Vin Scully.

5. Kanye hospitalized: Various media outlets are reporting that Kanye West has been hospitalized in Los Angeles. Los Angeles police responded to a call from a home in L.A. and reportedly found West in what they called a medical situation. He was transported via ambulance to the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.

 And one more

According to new research, the rate of dementia has declined in older Americans. A study shows that the rate of occurrence of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia in those over 65 has dropped to 9 percent. The rate was nearly 12 percent in 2000. The report noted that older adults with the most schooling had the lowest dementia rates.  

In case you missed it

Actor Vince Vaughn talks with kids about Thanksgiving -- and other stuff.

4-year-old fighting cancer dies after heartbreaking photo goes viral

The 4-year-old girl who captured everyone’s hearts has died.

>> Dad shares heartbreaking photo of daughter with stage 4 cancer

Jessica Whelan of Lancashire, England, first gained the internet’s attention after her father posted an emotional photo of her during her cancer treatment. Whelan was diagnosed with stage four neuroblastoma in September last year.

>> See the photo here

As a photographer it is important to capture the truth and the reality of a situation, too easy it becomes to capture...Posted by Jessica Whelan - A fight against Neuroblastoma on Saturday, October 29, 2016

Strangers raised more than $93,000 to help give her a chance to enjoy her last few weeks, but she passed away Sunday.

<script>(function(d, s, id) {</span><br /><span>  var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];</span><br /><span>  if (d.getElementById(id)) return;</span><br /><span>  js = d.createElement(s); = id;</span><br /><span>  js.src = "//;version=v2.8";</span><br /><span>  fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);</span><br /><span>}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));</script> This is what we are talking about when we talk about the swelling in Jessica's right arm.Posted by Jessica Whelan - A fight against Neuroblastoma on Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Her father, Andy Whelan, who has been documenting her fight, shared the news with followers:

"I feel both sadness and relief in informing you all that Jessica finally found peace at seven o’clock this morning. No longer does she suffer, no longer does she feel the pain of the physical constraints of her body. Now my princess has grown her angel wings and has gone up to play with her friends and loved ones. She will now watch down over her little brother and ourselves until one day we are reunited again.Last night she finally allowed me to hold her in my arms and we had a big cuddle as I told her how much I loved her. I told her again that it was okay for her to close her eyes and go to sleep and I kissed her forehead and her lips numerous times. It seems like this is what she needed to finally allow her to find comfort in her passing as within eight hours of this cuddle she finally took her final breath. She was a daddy’s girl from the start and even right up to the end. I feel like a massive part of me has just been torn away but I am so glad that I could give her that comfort in her final hours. She passed peacefully and calmly with not even a murmur."

>> Read the post here

I feel both sadness and relief in informing you all that Jessica finally found peace at seven o’clock this morning. No...Posted by Jessica Whelan - A fight against Neuroblastoma on Sunday, November 20, 2016

The family originally set up a GoFundMe page to help offset some of the medical bills, and in two days, more than 3,300 people donated.

>> Read more trending stories

“It has been absolutely overwhelming. It is quite hard for us to comprehend what is being donated,” James Whelan told the Daily Mail. “We will now be able to buy her things to give her enjoyment during the time she has left and will also help us give her the send off she deserves. We don’t feel comfortable about asking for money and we weren’t even going to do it until people asked us to. Now, we can’t believe how far it has gone. It seems to have reached most corners of the world.”

7 things to know now: Baby found; officers shot; 'Hamilton' apology; Kanye West

Here's a roundup of news trending across the nation and world today.

What to know now:

1. Baby found: A newborn who was kidnapped after her mother was murdered has been found unharmed, police say. The baby, Sophia Gonzales, was found Saturday in Dallas after her mother, 27-year-old Laura Abarca-Nogueda, was shot to death in Kansas. Investigators discovered late Friday that someone who knew the mother had taken the eight-day-old baby to Dallas after her mother was killed. Two people are in custody in connection with the incident.

2. Wetterling murderer sentencing: Danny Heinrich, who kidnapped, sexually assaulted then killed Jacob Wetterling in 1989, says he will apology in court Monday as he is sentenced on child pornography charges. Heinrich agreed to take authorities to the boy’s remains in August as part of a plea deal on pornography charges. Heinrich also confessed to kidnapping and sexually assaulting another boy. That assault happened a few months before he killed Wetterling.

3. Trump’s transition picks: President-elect Donald Trump met with several potential cabinet appointees over the weekend, saying Sunday that he had made “a couple of deals.” Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney was among those Trump met with. According to vice president-elect Mike Pence, Romney is under “serious consideration” for secretary of State. Retired Marine Gen. James Mattis is being considered for the position of defense secretary.

4. Officers shot: A St. Louis police officer is in critical condition after he was shot in what his chief called an"ambush" Sunday night. The 46-year-old officer was shot twice in the face, authorities said, but he is expected to survive. That shooting comes on the heels of the fatal shooting of a Texas police officer early Sunday. A San Antonio police officer sitting in his car writing out a traffic ticket was shot to death by a man who pulled up behind him, got out of his car, walked to the squad car and pointed a gun in through the passenger window. Police there said the shooting didn’t appear to have any connection to the traffic stop.

5. Van Zandt says to apologize: Steven Van Zandt, a member of the E Street Band and former “Sopranos” star, is calling on the cast of “Hamilton” to apology to vice president-elect Mike Pence. A member of the cast chastised Pence as he and his daughter and nephew were attending a performance of the play. “It was the most respectful, benign form of bullying ever. But bullying nonetheless,” Van Zandt tweeted over the weekend. “And by the way, human rights must be won, not asked for. When artists perform the venue becomes your home. The audience are your guests. It’s taking unfair advantage of someone who thought they were a protected guest in your home.”

And one more

Kanye West angered and simultaneously worried fans during a concert he cut short Saturday. West, who reportedly arrived late to the concert, performed three songs before he launched into a rant against Beyonce, her husband, Jay Z, and racism in America. "I am putting my career, my life, my public well-standing at risk, when I talk to y'all like this," West said. "Beyoncé, I was hurt, cause I heard that you said you wouldn't perform unless you won [VMA] Video of the Year over me, over Hotline Bling." He went on to say, "Jay Z, I know you got killers, please don't send them at my head. Just call me! Talk to me like a man!" Then he told black people to stop focusing on racism. “This world is racist, okay? Let's stop being distracted to focus on that as much, it's just a (expletive deleted) fact," he said. On Thursday, West surprised some of his fans when he told an audience that he did not vote for president, but would have voted for Donald Trump if he had.

In case you missed it

A few optical illusions to ponder.

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