National & World News

AP Top News at 5:17 p.m. EST

Digital dilemma: How will US respond to Sony hack?
WASHINGTON (AP) - The detective work blaming North Korea for the Sony hacker break-in appears so far to be largely circumstantial, The Associated Press has learned. The dramatic conclusion of a Korean role is based on subtle clues in the hacking tools left behind and the involvement of at least one computer in Bolivia previously traced to other attacks blamed on the North Koreans. Experts cautioned that hackers notoriously employ disinformation to throw investigators off their tracks, using borrowed tools, tampering with logs and inserting false references to language or nationality.


Timeline of the Sony Pictures Entertainment hack
It's been four weeks since hackers calling themselves Guardians of Peace began their cyberterrorism campaign against Sony Pictures Entertainment. In that time thousands of executive emails and other documents have been posted online, employees and their families were threatened, and unreleased films were stolen and made available for illegal download. The hackers then escalated this week to threatening 9/11-like attacks against movie theaters scheduled to show the Sony film "The Interview." That fanned security fears nationwide and resulted in the four top U.S. theater chains pulling the film from their screens, ultimately driving Sony to cancel the film's release. Here's a look at key developments in the hack:


Review: 'The Interview' deserves to be seen
That I was one of the relative few to see "The Interview" is not a boast I take any pleasure in. It's with heavy sadness, not pride, that I review Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg's North Korean farce. As of Thursday morning, the film has been shelved just a week ahead of its planned release due to terrorist threats by hackers said to be connected to North Korea. The movie's prospects of ever seeing the light of day are very much in doubt.


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Pope Benedict helped free American from Cuba
VATICAN CITY (AP) - Pope Francis rightly got credit for helping bring the U.S. and Cuba together and free U.S. government subcontractor Alan Gross. But it was Francis' predecessor, Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI, who made the first high-level Vatican manoeuver to release Gross, spurred in part by an unlikely group of papal lobbyists. The American Jewish Committee was one of several Jewish groups that approached the Vatican in the months before Benedict's March 2012 visit to Cuba to ask that the German pontiff raise the issue of the Jewish captive on humanitarian grounds with Cuba's leadership, The Associated Press has learned.


Next steps on Cuba: Normalizing could take awhile
WASHINGTON (AP) - How does one end almost 54 years of hostility toward a next-door neighbor? That's about to become clear as the Obama administration and the communist government of Raul Castro move to normalize more than a half-century of bitter animosity between the United States and Cuba.


Contractors ill-equipped for secret Cuba programs
WASHINGTON (AP) - When the U.S. government's global-aid agency launched secret plans to undermine Cuba's communist government, it didn't turn to the CIA for help. Instead, it used little-known contractors to carry out the operations - leading to multiple detentions and the high-profile arrest of American Alan Gross. Gross's release from a Cuban prison Wednesday underscored the dangers for the U.S. Agency for International Development's partners in Cuba. Those groups received millions of dollars to run clandestine operations, but repeatedly failed to avoid detection in a country where USAID's work is illegal.


Tsarnaev appears in court for 1st time since 2013
BOSTON (AP) - Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev returned to court Thursday for the first time since he was arraigned in July 2013, and he received a shout of encouragement from the mother-in-law of a man who was shot and killed while being questioned by law enforcement after the bombings. Security was tight at the federal courthouse in Boston for Tsarnaev's final pretrial conference. Tensions ran high, and one bombing victim had a testy exchange with protesters outside.


Putin: West wants to defang, declaw Russian bear
MOSCOW (AP) - Sternly warning the West it cannot defang the metaphorical Russian bear, a confident-looking President Vladimir Putin promised Thursday to shore up the plummeting ruble and revive the economy within two years. While he issued a litany of sharp rebukes against the West, Putin struck a conciliatory note on Ukraine, saying that the rebellious east should remain part of the country, backing a quick exchange of war prisoners and praising his Ukrainian counterpart.


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.


Judge: Slender Man stabbing defendants competent
WAUKESHA, Wis. (AP) - Two Wisconsin girls accused of stabbing a classmate to please a fantasy character called Slender Man are mentally fit to stand trial on attempted homicide charges, a judge ruled Thursday. Experts for the state concluded that both girls would be able to assist in their own defenses but their attorneys disagreed with the findings. Waukesha County Circuit Judge Michael Bohren sided with the state during back-to-back hearings to decide the issue Thursday.

 

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