TIME stocks

Cruise Line Shares Sail Higher as U.S., Cuba Relations Improve

Carnival's Breeze cruise ship stands docked prior to departure in Miami, Florida on March 9, 2014.
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images Carnival's Breeze cruise ship stands docked prior to departure in Miami, Florida on March 9, 2014.

Investors place bet on cruise operator shares even though tourism is still banned

Shares of cruise-line operators sailed to big gains on Wednesday as investors placed a bet that improving relations between the U.S. and Cuba could lead to new opportunities for tourism.

Shares of Carnival, Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean all rose in early trading Wednesday, outpacing the Dow Jones Industrial Average, after the Obama administration said it plans to lift many of its existing travel restrictions on Cuba.

The new regulations will make it easier for Americans to visit to Cuba under the 12 categories of travel that are currently allowed, The Wall Street Journal reported, though it isn’t immediately clear if or when the island will be open for mass tourism. Some kinds of tourism are still banned, according to various media reports,.

Still, Cuba is appealing to companies with the most to gain from the increased travel. The tropical island’s attractive beaches and proximity to the United States makes it a potential vacation hotspot. The Caribbean is already the largest cruise line market in the world, and Americans hop on the industry’s bulky ships more than any other nation.

Some of the cruise line operators already have strong links to the Caribbean. For example, nearly all of Norwegian’s ships serve the region. The Caribbean also makes up roughly 35% of Carnival’s passenger capacity, more than any other region. That means that if the U.S. were to allow its citizens to freely visit Cuba, many of the cruise industry’s ships are already in prime position to dock at Havana and other Cuban cities.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME justice

Judge Tosses Teen’s Murder Conviction 70 Years After His Execution

George Stinney Jr appears in an undated police booking photo provided by the South Carolina Department of Archives and History
Reuters George Stinney Jr appears in an undated police booking photo provided by the South Carolina Department of Archives and History.

George Stinney Jr. was convicted of killing two girls in the small town of Alcolu, South Carolina, in 1944

Seventy years after South Carolina executed a 14-year-old boy so small he sat on a phone book in the electric chair, a circuit court judge threw out his murder conviction.

On Wednesday morning, Judge Carmen Mullins vacated the decision against George Stinney Jr., a black teen who was convicted of beating two young white girls to death in the small town of Alcolu in 1944.

Read more American Held in Cuba Released After 5 Years

Civil rights advocates have spent years trying to get the case reopened, arguing that Stinney’s confession was coerced. At the time of his arrest, Stinney weighed just 95 pounds. Officials said Stinney had admitted beating the girls…

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

TIME Travel

Twitter Laments the Certain ‘Ruin’ of Havana by Tourists

Thanks, Obama

Moments after President Obama announced Wednesday that the U.S. would begin restoring relationships with Cuba, which includes loosening the existing travel ban, the perpetual curmudgeons of the Twitterverse declared Havana in all its exclusive, un-commercialized glory officially over. Don’t even think about going there now, some users griped. And if you do, get there literally right now because hipsters are definitely going to ruin it.

Havana, so it seems, according to Twitter, will soon go the way of Brooklyn and the countless other cities effectively ruined by well-meaning yuppies and fanny-pack-donning tourists, who heard great things about a place from their one cool and/or worldly cousin on Facebook.

Take this as a fair warning. Book your flights now before the Starbucks, J.Crew, and McDonald’s pop up.

Others, however, were a bit more upbeat about the potential for more Americans to experience Cuba firsthand.

TIME diplomacy

15 Famous Cuban-Americans

Just 90 miles away from the United States, there are plenty of cross-cultural influences between the US and Cuba - despite political differences. Take a look at 15 famous Cuban-Americans whose heritage might surprise you

TIME energy

New York Bans Fracking

After years of debate in the state over the controversial drilling technique

The administration of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday that the controversial drilling technique known as fracking will be banned in the state, citing concerns over risk of contamination to the state’s air and water.

“I cannot support high volume hydraulic fracturing in the great state of New York,” acting Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said. The announcement comes after years of debate over the practice, during which New York has had a defacto fracking ban in place, the New York Times reports.

Fracking employs chemicals and underground explosions to release oil and gas trapped in shale deposits that are inaccessible by conventional drilling techniques. Some environmentalists contend that fracking contaminates groundwater and can contribute to seismic activity, and that increased drilling activity can contribute to air pollution and other environmental problems.

[NYT]

TIME Obesity

Law Enforcement Is the Fattest Profession, Study Finds

Policeman in office, portrait
Getty Images

Along with firefighters and security guards

Police officers, firefighters and security guards have the highest rates of obesity of all professions, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of data from the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

According to the Journal, 40.7% of police, firefighters and security guards are obese. Other jobs with high obesity rates include clergy, engineers and truckers.

On the other side of the obesity scale is a grouping of economists, scientists and psychologists, with an obesity rate of 14.2%. Other professions with low obesity rates are athletes, actors and reporters.

Read more at The Wall Street Journal

TIME diplomacy

The Vatican Helped Seal U.S.-Cuba Deal

Hosted secret talks between the two nations

The Vatican played a key role in securing the release of an American contractor held in Cuba for five years and in setting the stage for a cooling of relations between the two countries, officials said Wednesday.

Pope Francis encouraged the neighbors, who have not had diplomatic relations since the rise of Fidel Castro in 1961, to negotiate a deal, and even hosted secret talks at the Vatican between the two nations, Obama Administration officials said. Canada hosted many of the negotiations, until the final meeting at the Vatican.

The deal to release Alan Gross was finalized in a call between President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro, but Obama noted that the Vatican was instrumental in brokering the make-up.

“Pope Francis personally issued an appeal in a letter that he sent to President Obama and to President Raul Castro calling on them to resolve the case of Alan Gross and the cases of the three Cubans who have been imprisoned here in the United States, and also encouraging the united states and cuba to pursue a closer relationship,” an official said, calling the papal letter “very rare. … The Vatican then hosted the U.S. and Cuban delegations where we were able to review the commitments that we are making today.”

MORE: What to know about Alan Gross

Additional reporting by Zeke J Miller / Washington

TIME 2016 Election

Why Democrats Changed Their Minds on Cuba

It used to be that national politicians of both parties would diligently travel to Florida during every election cycle and compete, in speeches and town hall meetings, over who could be more in favor of the embargo on Cuba.

It was, after all, common political sense: Cuban-Americans were, for decades, a fairly monolithic voting bloc and their feelings toward the embargo were unequivocal. They were for it. No ifs, ands, or maybes.

But in the last decade, all that has changed. The reason is shifting demographics—the same trend that rocketed President Obama to the White House in 2008 and 2012 and that will do more to influence the outcome of 2016 than perhaps anything else.

Younger Cuban-Americans are less into the embargo than their parents’ generation, and much more in favor of relaxing laws to make it easier to travel and trade with the island.

This shifting dynamic is going to play out in 2016, too. In fact, it already has. Jeb Bush, who announced yesterday that he is considering a run for the White House, takes the old-school hardline position. He’s in favor of the embargo, full stop.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton’s position has evolved over the years. In 2000, when she was running for Senate, and in 2008, when she was running for the Democratic nomination, she too took the old-school stance. In December 2007, she said rather clearly that the embargo was the law of the land, and it wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

“Until there is some recognition on the part of whoever is in charge of the Cuban government that they have to move toward democracy and freedom for the Cuban people, it will be very difficult for us to change our policy,” she said.

But then, as Secretary of State, her position began to crack, and then soften, and then flip entirely. She called on Obama to take a second look at the embargo, which she argued was actually helping Fidel and Raul Castro, not Americans. “It is my personal belief that the Castros do not want to see an end to the embargo and do not want to see normalization with the United States, because they would lose all of their excuses for what hasn’t happened in Cuba in the last 50 years,” she said in a 2010 speech in Kentucky.

And in her 2014 book, Hard Choices, she backs up that view: “I recommended to President Obama that he take another look at our embargo. It wasn’t achieving its goals, and it was holding back our broader agenda across Latin America.” In July this year, in an interview, she came right out and called the embargo “a failure.”

Jeb Bush’s hardline position and Hillary Clinton’s evolving one is a reflection of the larger demographic shifts happening the U.S. today.

Bush, if he runs, will no doubt lock down the older, more conservative Cuban-American vote, while Clinton, if she runs, will be in a position to lock down the younger, hipper, more liberal Cuban-American contingent.

So who wins? Right now, it’s a toss up. According to a 2014 poll by the Cuban Research Institute, 53 percent of Cuban-American registered voters said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who backed the normalization of diplomatic relations. But if you bore down a bit on the issues, it seems to lean heavily toward the Democrats: 90% of young Cuban-Americans are in favor of reestablishing diplomatic ties with Cuba; 68% of older Cuban-Americans share that view too.

But it doesn’t have to be a huge majority for it to make sense to Democrats to change positions. It just has to be more competitive than it used to be, and it now is.

TIME Know Right Now

Know Right Now: Colbert Signs Off

'Truthiness' on cable comes to an end

Comedy Central’s most vocal pundit, Stephen Colbert, hung up the towel Thursday, as he prepares to leave The Colbert Report after nine years to replace David Letterman on Late Night.

During Colbert’s tenure, he lambasted President Bush at the White House Correspondents Dinner, testified in front of Congress, led a march on Washington and even ran for President. On his show, he satirized the news of the day and newsmakers themselves. Each show ended with sportive interviews with famous writers, musicians, actors and, most recently, President Obama.

Watch today’s Know Right Now to find out more.

TIME Foreign Policy

What to Know About the American Released By Cuba

Alan Gross was convicted of espionage in Cuba while working as a U.S. contractor

Alan Gross, the 65-year-old American whose release from a Cuban prison was announced Wednesday, was a contractor trying to bring Internet services to Cuba.

He’s reported to be in poor health after declining medical and dental care in protest of his detention. Gross was arrested in Cuba in 2011 and charged with espionage for bringing telecommunications devices into the country while working as a subcontractor for the United States Agency for International Development. Accused of plotting to foment an insurrection along the lines of the Arab Spring, Gross was convicted of espionage and sentenced to 15 years in prison.

An attorney who has visited him in the small room in a Cuban military hospital where he has been kept with two other prisoners for the past five years says he is almost toothless, blind in one eye and severely addled with arthritis, ABC reports. He had declined medical attention in protest of his detention and threatened a hunger strike until death if he was not released by year’s end.

Gross’ release is seen as a first step toward thawing long-icy relations between the United States and Cuba.

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