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AP Top News at 8:28 a.m. EST

Obama reignites political debate over Cuba
WASHINGTON (AP) - The surprising move by President Barack Obama to restore U.S. ties with Cuba reignited long-simmering political passions over the fate of the island nation, reinforcing yet another difference between Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton and several Republicans eyeing bids for the White House. Yet even in Florida, the nation's most essential swing state, those distinctions may not matter as much as they once did amid an increasingly diverse electorate of Hispanic voters and younger Cuban-Americans, many of whom do not share the same fervor to depose Cuba's Castro brothers as their parents and grandparents.


Cubans hope for better future with US-Havana deal
HAVANA (AP) - Cubans cheered the surprise announcement that their country will restore relations with the United States, hopeful they'll soon see expanded trade and new economic vibrancy even though the 53-year-old economic embargo remains in place for the time being. "This opens a better future for us," said Milagros Diaz, 34. "We have really needed something like this because the situation has been bad and the people very discouraged."


10 Things to Know for Today
Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today: 1. WHAT DROVE OBAMA'S DECISION ON NORMALIZING WITH CUBA


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AP IMPACT: Abused kids die as authorities fail to protect
BUTTE, Montana (AP) - At least 786 children died of abuse or neglect in the U.S. in a six-year span in plain view of child protection authorities - many of them beaten, starved or left alone to drown while agencies had good reason to know they were in danger, The Associated Press has found. To determine that number, the AP canvassed the 50 states, the District of Columbia and all branches of the military - circumventing a system that does a terrible job of accounting for child deaths. Many states struggled to provide numbers. Secrecy often prevailed.


N Korea-linked Sony hack may be costliest ever
NEW YORK (AP) - The unprecedented hack of Sony Pictures which a U.S. official says is linked to North Korea may be the most damaging cyberattack ever inflicted on an American business. The fallout from the hack that exposed a trove of sensitive documents, and this week escalated to threats of terrorism, forced Sony to cancel release of the North Korean spoof movie "The Interview." The studio's reputation is in tatters as embarrassing revelations spill from tens of thousands of leaked emails and other company materials.


A look at North Korea's cyberwar capabilities
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - Most North Koreans have never seen the Internet. But the country Washington suspects is behind a devastating hack on Sony Pictures Entertainment has managed to orchestrate a string of crippling cyber infiltrations of South Korean computer systems in recent years, officials in Seoul believe, despite North Korea protesting innocence.


Putin accuses West of trying to sideline Russia
MOSCOW (AP) - Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed Thursday to fix Russia's economic woes within two years, voicing confidence that the plummeting ruble will recover and promising to diversify Russia's gas-dependent economy. Speaking with strong emotion and looking confident, Putin also displayed a defiant stance toward the West, which he insisted was still trying to destroy Russia.


'Stand your ground' defense fails in Montana murder trial
MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) - Just days before he shot to death a 17-year-old German exchange student, Markus Kaarma told hair stylists he had been waiting up to shoot some kids who were burglarizing homes. He told them they would see it on the news.


Reformers target traffic courts in Ferguson
ST. LOUIS (AP) - In the aftermath of Michael Brown's death, legal activists suggested that some of the raw anger that erupted in suburban St. Louis had its roots in an unlikely place - traffic court. It was there, they said, that low-income drivers sometimes saw their lives upended by minor infractions that led to larger problems. If left unpaid, a $75 ticket for driving with expired tags could eventually bring an arrest warrant and even jail time.


Q&A: Drones might help show how tornados form
DENVER (AP) - Researchers say they've collected promising weather data by flying instrument-laden drones into big Western and Midwestern storms. Now they want to expand the project in hopes of learning more about how tornados form. Drones can penetrate parts of weather systems that other instruments can't reach, and they can do it at less cost and with less danger than piloted planes, the scientists say.

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