FBI blames North Korea for Sony hack WASHINGTON (AP) - The Obama administration on Friday formally accused the North Korean government of being responsible for the devastating hacking attack against Sony Pictures Entertainment, providing the most detailed accounting to date of a hugely expensive break-in that could lead to a U.S. response. The FBI said in a statement it has enough evidence to conclude that North Korea was behind the punishing breach, which resulted in the disclosure of tens of thousands of leaked emails and other materials.
No word yet from Fidel amid historic US-Cuba shift HAVANA (AP) - Everyone in Cuba is talking about the abrupt turn in relations with the United States, with one notable exception: Fidel Castro The larger-than-life retired leader of Cuba so far has made no public comment about the announcement that the U.S. will restore diplomatic relations after more than 50 years of hostility. His brother, President Raul Castro, broke the news to the nation in a TV address and may appear again Friday as the Cuban National Assembly holds one of its twice-annual sessions.
After school massacre, 2 Pakistan militants hanged ISLAMABAD (AP) - Pakistan hanged two convicted militants on Friday - the country's first executions in years - after the government reinstated the death penalty in response to a horrific Taliban school massacre this week that killed 148, most of them children. Pakistan also stepped up an offensive against the militants in the country's northwest, along the border with Afghanistan, with warplanes and ground forces pounding their hideouts. A total of 77 militants were killed in the operation, which started late Thursday and went on throughout the day Friday.
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Bush officials gave CIA wide latitude WASHINGTON (AP) - In July 2004, despite growing internal concerns about the CIA's brutal interrogation methods, senior members of George W. Bush's national security team gave the agency permission to employ the harsh tactics against an al Qaida facilitator the agency suspected was linked to a plot to disrupt the upcoming presidential election. After weeks of torture that included being subjected to prolonged stress positions and sleep deprivation at a secret site in Romania, the prisoner, Janat Gul, begged to be killed. But he steadfastly denied knowledge of any plot, CIA records show-leading interrogators to conclude he was not the hardened terrorist they thought he was, and that the informant who fingered him was a liar.
Theater shooter's parents plead for his life DENVER (AP) - Some victims of the Colorado theater shooting are outraged that the parents of suspect James Holmes are pleading for him to be spared the death penalty just weeks before his trial is set to begin. In a statement released Friday, Robert and Arlene Holmes say their son is mentally ill, and they do not want him to be executed.
5 topics for Obama's year-end news conference WASHINGTON (AP) - Before President Barack Obama jets off to Hawaii for his annual Christmas vacation, he will carry out a White House ritual: the year-end news conference. Obama's sixth year in office was a difficult one. He faced foreign policy crises in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, lost Democratic control of the Senate and saw his approval rating plummet.
Cuban cigar boom? Not yet, stores and customers say MIAMI (AP) - The coveted Cuban cigar is set to make its first legal appearance in the U.S. in years, with relaxed guidelines allowing American travelers to return with a few of the once-forbidden items in their suitcases. But the cigars won't roll into stores just yet, and owners say they aren't worried about any dip in business. "I don't think they'll be able to afford it. It's not for the average customer," said Erik Otero, who left Cuba when he was 3 and has been rolling cigars since age 11.
Gold medalist Michael Phelps pleads guilty to DUI BALTIMORE (AP) - Olympic gold medal swimmer Michael Phelps pleaded guilty to drunken driving on Friday, almost three months after he was arrested after leaving a Baltimore casino. Phelps, 29, was sentenced to a year in prison, but the prison sentence is suspended. He must be on probation for a year and a half.
FIFA will not reopen 2018 and 2022 World Cup votes MARRAKECH, Morocco (AP) - Defiantly declaring that FIFA is no longer in crisis, Sepp Blatter said Friday the decision to hold the next two World Cups in Russia and Qatar won't be revoked and the governing body will publish a confidential probe into the process that picked those countries as hosts. The decision by the FIFA executive committee to publish ethics investigator Michael Garcia's report, with witnesses' names taken out, is aimed at lifting the cloud of suspicion that has dogged the 2018 and 2022 tournaments in Russia and Qatar and the December 2010 vote that sent the World Cup to those countries for the first time.