Obama says North Korea hacked Sony, vows response WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama said Friday that Sony Pictures Entertainment "made a mistake" in shelving a satirical film about a plot to assassinate North Korea's leader. He declared the United States would respond "in a place and manner and time that we choose" to a hack attack on Sony that the FBI blamed on the communist government. Speaking of Sony executives, Obama said at a year-end news conference, "I wish they had spoken to me first. ... We cannot have a society in which some dictatorship someplace can start imposing censorship."
Obama: No quick end to embargo on Cuba WASHINGTON (AP) - Two days after reopening diplomatic relations with Cuba, President Barack Obama said Friday he doesn't expect the effort to bring overnight change on the island, a quick end to the U.S. economic embargo or the likelihood that he will soon visit the communist nation. "This is still a regime that represses its people," Obama said at a year-end news conference two days after the historic announcement that he was moving to end the half century of Cold War acrimony with Havana. He said he hopes to visit Cuba at some point in his life but that he is not at the stage yet of going or hosting Cuban President Raul Castro in Washington.
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.
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Pakistan executes militants and bombards tribal areas ISLAMABAD (AP) - Pakistan hanged two convicted militants Friday in the country's first executions in years, while warplanes and ground forces pounded insurgent hideouts in a northwest region bordering Afghanistan - part of a stepped-up response to the Taliban slaughter of scores of schoolchildren. Unchastened by criticism from all corners of the globe, the Taliban threatened earlier Friday to kill more children if executions were carried out as promised.
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.
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.
Theater shooter's parents plead for his life DENVER (AP) - The parents of James Holmes pleaded Friday for his life to be spared if he is convicted of killing 12 people and injuring 70 others after opening fire in a Colorado movie theater. The plea incensed some survivors of the attack and relatives of people killed. They questioned the timing of the parents' statement around the holidays, just weeks before the trial of Holmes is set to begin.
AP PHOTOS: In North Korea, the Kims are adored To say that Kim Jong Un is the leader of his country is a gross understatement. In North Korea, he is regarded as the epitome of his country. The same was true of his grandfather, Kim Il Sung, and his father, Kim Jong Il. Each in his turn has been the focus of intense and unmitigated adoration and fealty.
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.
Sponsors pay big bucks to join college bowl games SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Ready! Set! Hut, hut: This holiday season's blitz of college football bowl games will feature a reshuffled roster of corporate sponsors spending millions to thrust their names in front of fans watching on TV and in the stands. The bowls haven't disclosed their asking prices, but sports marketing experts contacted by The Associated Press estimated the annual cost for the top-tier games ranges from $25 million to more than $30 million. That's up from $16 million to $20 million previously.