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By Michael Weissenstein The Associated Press

Election council says 8M voted to create Venezuelan assembly

CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuelan electoral authorities said more than 8 million people voted to create a constitutional assembly endowing President Nicolas Maduro’s ruling socialist party with virtually unlimited powers a number more than double the estimates of independent experts and opposition leaders, who met the announcement with fury and derision.

Thousands line up early to pay homage to Castro in Cuba

HAVANA — Thousands of Cubans began lining up early near Havana’s Plaza of the Revolution Monday carrying portraits of Fidel Castro, flowers and Cuban flags for the start of week-long services bidding farewell to the man who ruled the country for nearly half a century.

One of the first in line was Tania Jimenez, 53, a mathematician who arrived at 4 a.m. carrying a rose.

Google helps offer vastly faster Internet in Cuba

HAVANA — Google is opening a cutting-edge online technology centre at the studio of one of Cuba’s most famous artists, offering free Internet at speeds nearly 70 times faster than those now available to the Cuban public. President Obama says Google’s efforts in Cuba are part of a wider plan to improve access to the Internet across the island.

Cuba launches shark protection plan with US group as part of growing environmental co-operation

HAVANA Cuba announced Wednesday that it is launching a long-term plan to preserve its sharks in co-operation with a U.S. environmental group, part of a rapidly accelerating partnership between the two countries aimed at preserving their shared waters in the Gulf of Mexico and Florida Straits.