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IRNA (Iran), ABC NEWS, NEW YORK TIMES, ASSOCIATED PRESS (USA), AL JAZEERA (Qatar), XINHUA (China)

Worldcrunch

TEHRAN - In an apparent change of heart, Iran says foreign aid is now welcome following the twin earthquakes that hit the north western part of the country last weekend, reports ABC news.

On Monday, a Turkish rescue team had been sent back to Turkey, as Iran's Red Crescent initially said that the country did not need foreign assistance and could handle the disaster itself.

“Our country has in various occasions rushed to assist the victims of natural disaster victims in different countries, and now we are ready to receive the contributions of different countries to quake victims in Ahar, Varzaqan and Haris townships” said Vice-President Mohammad Reza Rahimi in a press conference in Tabriz on Tuesday, reports Iranian state agency IRNA.

A number of countries have offered their condolences to Iran after the deadly earthquakes notes IRNA, including Turkey, Pakistan, Russia, Syria, Japan, Switzerland, and the United States.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle and Pope Benedict XVI also voiced their sympathy. The Swiss government announced its readiness to provide humanitarian aid to the quake-stricken people, adds the Iranian news agency.

The first humanitarian supplies have already been dispatched by the Republic of Azerbaijan. The aid includes flour, rice, sugar, cooking oil and pasta, as well as blankets and tents, according to IRNA.

Yet the current financial sanctions imposed by the United States on Iran have raised worries among Iranian-Americans about where to send donations — and whether such aid is even legal, reports The New York Times.

A 6.2 earthquake on the Richter scale hit the city of Ahar at 4:53 p.m. on Saturday, and a 6 magnitude quake struck the city of Varzaqan only 11 minutes later -- followed by multiple aftershocks.

At least 306 people have been killed and over 3037 others injured, according to the ministry of health, reports Xinhua.

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How U.S. Airlines Are Doing Cuba's Dirty Work On American Soil

American and Southwest Airlines have been refusing to allow Cubans on board flights if they've been blacklisted by the government in Havana.

How U.S. Airlines Are Doing Cuba's Dirty Work On American Soil

Boarding a plane in Camaguey, Cuba

Santiago Villa

On Sunday, American Airlines refused to let Cuban writer Carlos Manuel Álvarez board a Miami flight bound for Havana. It was at least the third time this year that a U.S. airline refused to let Cubans on board to return to their homeland after Havana circulated a government "blacklist" of critics of the regime. Clearly undemocratic and possibly illegal under U.S. law, the airlines want to make sure to cash in on a lucrative travel route, writes Colombian journalist Santiago Villa:

-OpEd-

Imagine for a moment that you left your home country years ago because you couldn't properly pursue your chosen career there. It wasn't easy, of course: Your profession is not just singularly demanding, but even at the top of the game you might not be assured a stable or sufficient income, and you've had to take on second jobs, working in bars and restaurants.

This chosen vocation is that of a writer or journalist, or perhaps an artist, which has kept you tied to your homeland, often the subject of your work, even if you don't live there anymore.

Since leaving, you've been back home several times, though not so much for work. Because if you did, you would be followed in cars and receive phone calls to let you know you are being watched.

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