US inspector finds Beyoncé, Jay-Z Cuba trip legal
HAVANA (AP) - The U.S. Treasury Department's inspector general has determined Jay-Z and Beyoncé's fifth-anniversary trip to Cuba last year was legal under rules allowing educational travel to the island.
The music superstars angered several Republican politicians in Florida with their four-day visit to Havana, which saw them eating in some of the city's high-end private restaurants and touring colonial Old Havana while Jay-Z puffed on a Cuban cigar.
Washington's 51-year embargo makes it illegal for U.S. citizens to visit Cuba for mere tourism, although tens of thousands of Americans travel to the island each year on academic, religious, journalistic or cultural exchange licenses. The inspector general's office said in a report Wednesday that the couple visited an art school and a local theater group, helping make their trip a legal educational exchange.
Acquitted mayor asks Supreme Court for job back
MIAMI (AP) - The suspended mayor of Miami Lakes has turned to the Florida Supreme Court in an effort to win back his job at city hall after his acquittal on federal corruption charges.
Attorneys for Michael Pizzi asked the high court in a filing Thursday to force Gov. Rick Scott to reinstate him as Miami Lakes mayor. Scott has refused to do so because voters elected a new mayor in a special election shortly after Pizzi was indicted last year.
Pizzi was cleared earlier this month by a federal jury of seven corruption-related charges brought after an undercover FBI investigation into questionable city grant applications.
Pizzi contends he should be allowed to serve out his term that ends in 2016. Current Mayor Wayne Slaton says he has no intention of stepping aside.
US judge strikes down Florida gay marriage ban
MIAMI (AP) - A federal judge has declared Florida's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, joining state judges in four counties who have sided with gay couples wishing to tie the knot.
U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle in Tallahassee ruled Thursday that the ban added to Florida's constitution by voters in 2008 violates the 14th Amendment's guarantees of equal protection and due process. Hinkle issued a stay delaying the effect of his order, meaning no marriage licenses will be immediately issued for gay couples.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has appealed the previous rulings striking down the ban in Broward, Miami-Dade, Monroe and Palm Beach counties. Hinkle's ruling allows time for appeals in the federal case.
A number of similar rulings around the country have been put on hold while appeals are pursued.
PETS IN DORMS
Colorado college lets students keep pets in dorms
GREELEY, Colo. (AP) - It's move-in day at the University of Northern Colorado, and this year some students are being allowed to bring their cats or dogs to live with them in dorms.
Pets under 40 pounds are being allowed on two of the 17 floors of Lawrenson residence hall, home to about 400 students.
The pilot program beginning Thursday will include about 24 pets.
Dogs and cats that aren't able to live side-by-side will be separated as needed.
While some colleges allow small-caged pets, a slowly growing number of schools are letting undergraduate students bring other pets to live with them.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology allows cats in designated "cat-friendly" areas. Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida, allows cats and dogs - as well as nonvenomous snakes under 6 feet long.
Fort Bragg paratrooper killed in Afghanistan
FORT BRAGG, N.C. (AP) - A Fort Bragg paratrooper has been killed in action in Afghanistan.
The Department of Defense said Thursday that Army Sgt. 1st Class Matthew I. Leggett died the prior day. The 39-year-old from Ruskin, Florida, was assigned to the headquarters battalion of the 18th Airborne Corps. No details were provided about where or how Leggett was killed.
Leggett enlisted in the Army in May 1995 and had been based at Fort Bragg since 2012. He served three combat tours and was the recipient of numerous awards and decorations, including a Bronze Star Medal with one oak leaf cluster and a Purple Heart for wounds sustained in combat.
He is survived by his parents, Thea Marie Kurtz and Thomas Leggett.
Saints looking for more production from Toon
METAIRIE, La. (AP) - Saints quarterback Drew Brees says he expects Nick Toon to be a "big contributor" this season.
Brees says that's why he's been calling Toon aside during practice recently to discuss the young receiver's route running.
The 6-foot-4 Toon is a former Wisconsin star and the son of former New York Jets All-Pro Al Toon. A fourth-round draft pick in 2012, Toon is entering his third NFL season, but only his second on the field after a foot injury wiped out his rookie season.
Last season, Toon played in eight games, finishing with only four catches for 68 yards and no touchdowns.
Now the Saints are hoping Toon will emerge as a more reliable target in a passing game led by veteran receiver Marques Colston and star tight end Jimmy Graham.
Doug Martin happy to be back on field with Bucs
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - Doug Martin is back from an injury that sidelined him for most of last season and confident he can regain the form that made him one of the most productive running backs in the NFL as a rookie.
The third-year pro missed the final 10 games of 2013 after tearing the labrum in his left shoulder, contributing to the Bucs ranking 30th in scoring and last in total offense on the way to a 4-12 finish.
If the Bucs are going to turn themselves around in their first season under coach Lovie Smith, they likely will need a strong running game built around the 5-foot-9, 215-pound Martin.
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