Cuba embargo — Americans seeking to visit Cuba must navigate a complicated maze of travel, commerce and financial restrictions unveiled Wednesday by the Trump administration, part of a new policy to further isolate the island’s communist government. Now off-limits to U.S. citizens are dozens of Cuban hotels, shops, tour companies and other businesses included on a lengthy American blacklist of entities that have links to Cuba’s military, intelligence or security services. And most Americans will once again be required to travel as part of heavily regulated, organized tour groups run by U.S. companies, rather than voyaging to Cuba on their own. The stricter rules mark a return to the tougher U.S. stance toward Cuba that existed before former President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro restored diplomatic relations in 2015.
Medicaid expansion vote — The election results in Maine and Virginia have energized supporters of expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act in several holdout states. After months of battling Republican efforts to repeal the law, they now see political consensus shifting in their direction. Groups in Idaho and Utah are already working through the process of getting Medicaid expansion initiatives on next year’s ballots, hoping to follow Maine’s path after failing through the legislative route. And the outlook for legislative approval has brightened in Virginia after Democrats picked up at least 15 seats in the Republican-controlled House of Delegates and could potentially control the chamber once all the votes are counted.
Britain Cabinet shakeup — Britain’s international development secretary, Priti Patel, on Wednesday became the second Cabinet minister to quit in a week, a significant new setback for Prime Minister Theresa May. Patel, 45, resigned after breaching ministerial rules by holding a dozen unauthorized meetings with Israeli officials during a summer vacation, giving a misleading impression about whom she had informed and failing to disclose all the relevant details to May. The resignation also follows a series of sleaze and sexual harassment allegations in Parliament, which prompted another Cabinet minister, Defense Secretary Michael Fallon, to quit last week, and threatens another.
Iran and Saudi Arabia — President Hassan Rouhani of Iran stood his ground Wednesday in an escalating regional showdown, defending a Yemeni rebel missile attack on the Saudi capital that Saudi Arabia has denounced as an Iranian “act of war.” Saudi forces were “constantly bombing” Yemen, Rouhani said, adding: “What reaction can the nation of Yemen show toward this amount of bombardment? They say that they should not use weapons? Well, you stop the bombs, and then see if you don’t get a positive reaction from the nation of Yemen.” The conflict in Yemen is one of several proxy battles between the two powers.
Third gender — Germany must create a third gender category for people who do not identify as either male or female or were born with ambiguous sexual traits, the country’s constitutional court ruled Wednesday, finding that binary gender designations violated the right to privacy. In 2013, Germany became the first European country to allow parents to register newborns as neither female nor male. The new decision, by the Federal Constitutional Court, goes further, giving lawmakers until the end of 2018 to either allow the introduction of a third gender category or dispense with gender altogether in public documents.
Homeland Security nominee — Senate Democrats pressed Kirstjen Nielsen, President Donald Trump’s pick to lead the Department of Homeland Security, during her confirmation hearing Wednesday about her inexperience and how she would carry out his immigration agenda. But she faced a mostly deferential Senate Homeland Security Committee, a sign that she is likely to be easily confirmed as the sixth person to lead the agency. Nielsen pledged to be tough on border security but acknowledged that Trump’s campaign promise to build a wall across the entire southern border was unrealistic.
Obama at jury duty — Barack Obama, former leader of the free world and current Illinois taxpayer, returned home Wednesday for that most somber of civic obligations: jury duty. And as much as Chicago tried to play it cool, people were entranced by the sight of a former president reporting to Room 1700 of a county courthouse, plopping a red juror sticker on his jacket and earning the $17.20 daily stipend — almost enough to pay for parking. “He was willing to go through everything everybody else had to go through,” said Timothy Evans, the chief judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County.