WASHINGTON — Reversing another Obama-era policy, the Trump administration on Wednesday voted against a United Nations resolution that condemned the half-century-old U.S. trade embargo on Cuba.

Only Israel voted with the United States against the resolution, which called for an end to the economic embargo imposed by Congress early in the Cold War.

A total of 191 countries approved the resolution at a U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York.

The U.S. ambassador always voted against the annual, nonbinding resolution since it was first introduced 25 years ago — until last year.

After President Barack Obama restored diplomatic relations with Cuba and took steps to improve relations with the Communist-ruled island, the U.S. last year abstained. Obama urged Congress to lift the embargo.

The Trump administration cited Cuba’s human rights abuses as reason to keep the embargo. President Donald Trump has vowed to roll back other improvements in economic and political ties with Cuba, although he has left the diplomatic opening largely intact.

—Tribune Washington Bureau


Bipartisan group of senators announce compromise on North Korea sanctions bill

WASHINGTON — A group of four lawmakers on Wednesday announced a bipartisan agreement on legislation that would strengthen sanctions on North Korea.

The bill would expand sanctions on Pyongyang, as well as the regime’s “financial facilitators and supporters,” according to a release. It would also grant Congress greater oversight of the sanctions.

“The time has come for the U.S. to take the lead to ensure that all nations work together to isolate the Kim regime until it has no choice but to change its dangerous, belligerent behavior,” Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, said in a release.

Negotiations on the legislation occurred between Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, the top Democrat on the banking panel, and Sens. Pat Toomy, R-Penn., and Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., who previously introduced their own sanctions bill.

—CQ-Roll Call


Cancer victim’s family wants Missouri court to review scrapped $72 million talcum powder verdict

ST. LOUIS — Survivors of an ovarian cancer victim whose $72 million jury verdict against Johnson & Johnson was tossed out last month by a Missouri appeals court are seeking another review of the case or its transfer to the Missouri Supreme Court.

Jacqueline Fox, of Birmingham, Ala., was 62 when she died about four months before a St. Louis circuit court heard her claim that talcum powder in the New Jersey-based health care giant’s products caused her ovarian cancer. A jury in February 2016 awarded her $10 million in actual damages and $62 million in punitive damages.

Last month, the appeals court here ruled that Fox’s lawsuit lacked jurisdiction in Missouri because of a U.S. Supreme Court decision in June that imposed limits on where injury lawsuits can be filed. The Bristol-Myers Squibb case said non-California residents could not file claims there against the New York-based maker of the blood thinner Plavix, ruling that establishing a lawsuit’s jurisdiction requires a stronger connection between the forum state and a plaintiff’s claims.

A motion by Fox’s estate filed Tuesday with the Missouri Eastern District appeals court requested that the court re-hear her case or that it be transferred to the state’s highest court. Fox’s motion asks the appeals court to decide if its Oct. 17 ruling “permits reconsideration of the personal jurisdictional issue” in a lower court under new standards established by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in June.

—St. Louis Post-Dispatch


Michael Fallon quits as UK defense chief after harassment claims

LONDON — U.K. Defense Secretary Michael Fallon quit his post, citing allegations about his past conduct and becoming the first casualty of a sexual harassment scandal that is sweeping Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party as well as the Labour opposition.

“I accept that in the past I have fallen below the high standards that we require of the armed forces which I have the privilege to represent,” Fallon said in a letter to May released by her office late Wednesday and later repeated in a video statement released through broadcasters.

The resignation poses a new dilemma for May, who loses one of her safest pair of hands. Fallon, 65, was a veteran defender of Tory policies, deployed as an attack dog by both May and her predecessor David Cameron. He had been seen as a potential caretaker prime minister if May fell. Instead, he has become the latest problem to face her troubled government, which lost its parliamentary majority in June’s elections and is riven by divisions over Brexit policy.

Fallon is the first minister to lose his job in a scandal over sexual harassment. Around 40 Tory lawmakers have been named on a list being circulated at Westminster detailing allegations over sexual activities by lawmakers ranging from inappropriate behavior to affairs and fetishes.

Earlier in the week, Fallon said he had apologized at the time for repeatedly touching the knee of a journalist, Julia Hartley-Brewer, at a dinner 15 years ago and they had put the incident behind them. Hartley-Brewer, who said she had threatened to “punch him in the face” if he did it again, also downplayed the incident. On Wednesday, she told Sky News if his resignation was about that incident, “it’s mad and absurd and crazy.”

—Bloomberg News


Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.