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The nation in brief

by Compiled by Democrat-Gazette staff from wire reports | December 12, 2018 at 3:32 a.m. | Updated December 12, 2018 at 3:32 a.m.

U.S. seeks answers on detained Cubans

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump's administration is demanding answers from Cuba about eight detainees it says are political prisoners held by the communist government.

In an open letter to Cuba's foreign minister released Tuesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Cuba had refused to respond to multiple U.S. queries about the eight, who he said were illustrative of more than 100 political prisoners in Cuba. The list includes members of dissident groups and a journalist.

Pompeo accused Cuba of reneging on promises to release them and other prisoners of conscience who date to President Barack Obama's administration.

Pompeo wrote to Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, calling for a detailed description of the charges they faced and evidence against them. He said the U.S. respects the rights of nations to imprison those convicted of crimes but not when they are arrested only for exercising fundamental human rights such as freedom of speech and association.

The eight detainees are Yosvany Sanchez Valenciano, Melkis Faure Echevarria, and Yanier Suarez Tamayo of the Cuban Patriotic Union; Eduardo Cardet Concepcion of the Christian Liberation Movement; journalist Yoeni de Jesus Guerra Garcia; Martha Sanchez of the Ladies in White; and Jose Rolando Casares Soto and Yamilka Abascal Sanchez of the Cuban Youth Dialogue.

"The government of the United States is acting dishonestly when it expresses concern about human rights in Cuba or any other place," said Carlos Fernandez de Cossio, director-general of the Cuban Foreign Ministry's U.S. affairs section. "The supposed letter from the Secretary of State and its public handling are just acts of propaganda."

Killer of newlywed executed in Texas

HUNTSVILLE, Texas -- A Texas inmate was executed Tuesday evening for fatally shooting a newlywed during a robbery more than 25 years ago.

Alvin Braziel Jr., 43, received a lethal injection at the state penitentiary in Huntsville for the 1993 slaying of 27-year-old Douglas White, who was attacked as he and his wife walked on a jogging trail.

Asked by the warden if he had a final statement, Braziel thanked supporters and apologized to the victim's wife, Lora White.

"I would like to apologize ... for her husband dying at my hands," Braziel said from the death chamber gurney.

Braziel was pronounced dead at 7:19 p.m., nine minutes after the injection began.

Braziel became the 24th inmate put to death this year in the U.S..

Missouri town gets complaint on cross

OZARK, Mo. -- The southwest Missouri city of Ozark is on the verge of taking down a Christian cross that is part of its holiday display after a national advocacy group complained about it.

Ozark officials said in a news release Tuesday that the Freedom From Religion Foundation said the cross in the Finley River Park holiday display violates the principle of separation of church and state. In the release, officials said leaving a religious symbol on public property will result in a lawsuit that the city couldn't win. The city cited cases around the U.S. where public entities have lost similar cases.

However, later Tuesday, Ozark Mayor Rick Gardner said it was too soon to make a decision, adding that he has received possibly "hundreds" of phone calls, texts and other messages from the Ozark community.

A Section on 12/12/2018

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