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AP Analysis: US was at odds with world over Cuba policy
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama's decision to pursue new relations with Cuba was driven in part by a stinging realization: Longstanding U.S. policies aimed at isolating Cuba had instead put Washington at odds with the rest of the world. The American economic embargo on Cuba drove a wedge between the U.S. and Latin American nations. In an annual diplomatic embarrassment, the United Nations General Assembly votes overwhelmingly to condemn the U.S. policy. And while the U.S. was clinging to its economic restrictions against the small communist nation just 90 miles off its shores, leaders of China, Russia and Brazil flocked to Havana, promising millions in investment.


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 source: US probe links NKorea to Sony hacking
WASHINGTON (AP) - Federal investigators have now connected the hacking of Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. to North Korea, a U.S. official said Wednesday, though it remained unclear how the federal government would respond to a break-in that exposed sensitive documents and ultimately led to terrorist threats against moviegoers. The official, who said a more formal statement might come soon, spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to openly discuss an ongoing criminal case. A security professional with knowledge of the breach also said investigators had strong circumstantial evidence and technical commonalities pointing to North Korea.


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.


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, pledging to diversify the gas-dependent economy and persuade businesses to help prop up the collapsing ruble. While using a litany of accusations against the West, Putin acknowledged that Western economic sanctions over Russia's course on Ukraine was just one factor behind the Russian economic crisis, saying a key reason was the nation's failure to ease its overwhelming dependence on oil and gas exports. He estimated that sanctions accounted roughly for 25 to 30 percent of the ruble's troubles.


AP IMPACT: Abused kids die as officials 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 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.


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.


Why the Fed thinks US economy still needs its help
WASHINGTON (AP) - If you didn't know about the lingering damage from the Great Recession, the U.S. economy would appear remarkably strong. The unemployment rate is a close-to-healthy 5.8 percent. Inflation is unusually low. Crashing oil prices are rewarding consumers with a tax cut of sorts.


Qatar: Building team to spring surprise in 2022
DOHA, Qatar (AP) - It's a cold, hard fact of football: Countries with tiny populations don't generally beat big ones with deep wells of talented players. So how embarrassing might the score be when Qatar - smallest host in World Cup history, with just 282,750 citizens - plays the opening game of its 2022 tournament against, for example, titans Brazil or Germany?

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