TIME Foreign Policy

‘A Slap in the Face': Pilots’ Families Balk at Cuban Prisoner Swap

Cuba Releases Alan Gross, Held In Prison For 5 Years
People stand outside the Little Havana restaurant Versailles, as they absorb the news that Alan Gross was released from a Cuban prison and that U.S. President Barack Obama wants to change the United States Cuba policy on Dec. 17, 2014 in Miami, United States Joe Raedle—Getty Images

Cuban MiGs shot down their two small, private planes in February 1996

The South Florida families of pilots fatally shot down by Cuba in 1996 are speaking out against the Wednesday release of three members of the convicted spies known as the “Cuban Five” in a prisoner swap — among them one who had been convicted of conspiracy to commit murder over the shootdown.

“For the only person that we had responsible for what happened to be let go — it’s a slap in the face to my dad,” Marlene Alejandre-Triana said at a news conference.

Alejandre-Triana’s father Armando Alejandre, a Vietnam veteran, was one of four pilots killed when Cuban MiGs shot down their two small, private planes in February 1996 in international waters…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: December 4

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. Reimagine your school library as a makerspace.

By Susan Bearden in EdSurge

2. New materials could radically change air conditioning.

By The Economist

3. Ambassadorships are too important to hand out to political donors.

By Justine Drennan in Foreign Policy

4. There’s a better way: Using data and evidence — not politics — to make policy.

By Margery Turner at the Urban Institute

5. The tax-code works for the rich. Low-income households need reforms that make deductions into credits and stimulate savings.

By Lewis Brown Jr. and Heather McCulloch in PolicyLink

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Australia

An Australian MP Says Sorry for Calling Chinese Officials ‘Mongrels’ and ‘Bastards’

House Of Representatives Question Time
Leader of the Palmer United Party Clive Palmer during Question Time at Parliament House on July 15, 2014 in Canberra, Australia. Stefan Postles—Getty Images

And says he looks forward to "greater peace and understanding in the future"

Australian legislator and mining tycoon Clive Palmer has “most sincerely” apologized for a blistering attack on the Chinese government, reports the BBC.

During a live debate shown last week by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the 60-year-old billionaire — whose own Palmer United Party holds the balance of power in Australia’s Senate — slammed Chinese officials as “bastards” and “mongrels” who “shoot their own people.”

“They’re communist, they shoot their own people, they haven’t got a justice system and they want to take over this country,” he said at the time. “The Chinese government wants to bring workers here to destroy our wage system … they want to take over our ports and get our resources for free … I don’t mind standing up against the Chinese bastards and stopping them from doing it.”

China is Australia’s top trading partner, and Palmer’s tirade prompted a fierce backlash in a state-linked Chinese newspaper, the Global Times.

His remarks were also criticized by other Australian politicians. “Mr. Palmer’s comments are offensive, they are unnecessary, and it’s unacceptable for a Member of Parliament to make such comments, particularly on a national television program,” said Foreign Minister Julie Bishop on the radio.

In a letter to the Chinese ambassador revealed Tuesday, Palmer said, “I regret any hurt or anguish such comments may have caused any party and I look forward to greater peace and understanding in the future.”

TIME Germany

U.S. and Germany Make Nice Amid Espionage Claims

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier during a press conference, after talks between the foreign ministers of the six powers negotiating with Tehran on its nuclear program, in Vienna, Austria on July 13, 2014.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier during a press conference, after talks between the foreign ministers of the six powers negotiating with Tehran on its nuclear program, in Vienna, Austria on July 13, 2014. Jim Bourg—AP

"We have enormous political cooperation and we are great friends," says Secretary of State John Kerry

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called the U.S. and Germany “great friends” on Sunday, playing down the tensions surrounding recent allegations that the U.S. has been spying on Berlin.

Kerry and German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier met in Vienna to discuss Iran’s nuclear program, but used the occasion to reiterate their commitment to the U.S-German alliance as the espionage scandal that has battered the relationship between the two countries in recent weeks continues to reverberate.

Germany ordered the CIA’s station chief in Berlin to leave the country last week, after the arrest of a German man earlier in July on suspicion of spying on behalf of the U.S. government.

Although Kerry did not explicitly address the espionage claims, he stressed the importance of the U.S.-German partnership after noting that he and Steinmeier discussed ongoing conflicts in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and the Middle East.

“Let me emphasize the relationship between the United States and Germany is a strategic one,” Kerry said in a statement alongside Steinmeier. “We have enormous political cooperation and we are great friends. And we will continue to work together in the kind of spirit that we exhibited today in a very thorough discussion.”

Steinmeier said the two countries “want to work on reviving this relationship, on a foundation of trust and mutual respect,” Reuters reports. He mentioned that the effort applies to “all the difficulties that have arisen in our bilateral relations in recent weeks,” adding that the U.S.-German alliance will strengthen attempts to resolve issues in Afghanistan, the Middle East and Iran.

Both Steinmeier and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have highlighted the necessity of continuing Germany’s partnership with the U.S. despite recent setbacks, but Merkel said in a Saturday interview with public German broadcaster ZDF that the two countries have completely different notions of the role of intelligence.

The Chancellor expressed hope that the reaction in Germany would persuade the U.S. not to spy on its allies. “We want this cooperation based on partnership,” she said in the interview. “But we have different ideas, and part of this is that we don’t spy on each other.”

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