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AP Top News at 2:55 p.m. EST

Obama: US re-establishing relations with Cuba
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama announced the re-establishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba on Wednesday and declared an end to America's "outdated approach" to the communist island in a historic shift aimed at ending a half-century of Cold War enmity. "These 50 years have shown that isolation has not worked," Obama said in remarks from the White House. "It's time for a new approach."


Key dates in US relations with Cuba
Key events in U.S.-Cuba relations: - THE START: Fidel Castro's rebels take power as dictator Fulgencio Batista flees Cuba on Jan 1, 1959. The United States soon recognizes the new government. But relations begin to sour as Americans criticize summary trials and executions of Batista loyalists. In 1960 Cuba nationalizes U.S.-owned oil refineries after they refuse to process Soviet oil. Nearly all other U.S. businesses are expropriated soon afterward.


Released from Cuba, Alan Gross says freedom is not free
WASHINGTON (AP) - Alan Gross emerged Wednesday from five years of captivity in Cuba praising the Cuban people and offering a lesson he said he learned: Freedom is not free. In his first public remarks after arriving in the U.S., Gross also spoke supportively of President Barack Obama's move to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba after more than a half-century of discord. Calling the shift "game-changing," Gross said that more than five decades of history had shown that the previous U.S. approach to its old foe wasn't effective.


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Cuba welcomes Castro's announce of renewed US ties
HAVANA (AP) - Bells tolled in celebration and teachers halted lessons midday as President Raul Castro told his country Wednesday that Cuba was restoring relations with the United States after more than a half-century of hostility. Wearing his military uniform with its five-star insignia, the 83-year-old leader said the two countries would work to resolve their differences "without renouncing a single one of our principles."


After 53 years, time is right for US and Cuba
MEXICO CITY (AP) - After 53 years of hostility between the United States and Cuba, the timing to make amends was perfect for both governments. The breakthrough in US-Cuban relations came with the release of American Alan Gross and an unnamed US intelligence agent, and the freeing of three jailed Cuban agents. The longtime enemies announced they would move toward full diplomatic relations, and Washington said it would ease economic and travel restrictions.


Pope played crucial role in US-Cuba rapprochement
VATICAN CITY (AP) - The crucial role played by the Vatican in bringing Cuba and the United States together signals that history's first Latin American pope is willing to put the Holy See on the front lines of diplomacy. The Vatican, which has long championed the cause, said Wednesday that Francis wrote to President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro in recent months and invited them to resolve their differences over humanitarian issues, including prisoners.


Pakistan buries victims of school massacre
PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) - As they buried their children Wednesday, the families spoke of their dreams. One boy had just gotten high marks on his midterm and hoped to become a pilot. A 13-year-old wanted to become a doctor. Another kid just loved playing video games with his cousins. At cemeteries across the Pakistani city of Peshawar, families lowered the rough wooden coffins of young boys and their teachers into the cold ground and gathered under funeral tents or at home, trying to comprehend the militant attack a day earlier on a school that killed 148 people, almost all of them young students.


Steps Pakistan is taking after school massacre
ISLAMABAD (AP) - A look at steps the Pakistani government is taking to address militancy following Tuesday's Taliban massacre of 148 people at a school: --


14 charged in deadly 2012 meningitis outbreak
BOSTON (AP) - In the biggest criminal case ever brought in the U.S. over contaminated medicine, 14 former owners or employees of a Massachusetts pharmacy were charged Wednesday in connection with a 2012 meningitis outbreak that killed 64 people. The nationwide outbreak was traced to tainted drug injections manufactured by the now-closed New England Compounding Pharmacy of Framingham.


Russians flock to stores to pre-empt price rises
MOSCOW (AP) - Russian consumers flocked to the stores Wednesday, frantically buying a range of big-ticket items to pre-empt the price rises kicked off by the staggering fall in the value of the ruble in recent days. As the Russian authorities announced a series of measures to ease the pressure on the ruble, which slid 15 percent in the previous two days and raised fears of a bank run, many Russians were buying cars and home appliances - in some cases in record numbers - before prices for these imported goods shoot higher.

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