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AP Top News at 12:14 a.m. EST

Obama says North Korea hacked Sony, vows response
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama declared Friday that Sony "made a mistake" in shelving a satirical film about a plot to assassinate North Korea's leader, and he pledged the U.S. would respond "in a place and manner and time that we choose" to the hacking attack on Sony that led to the withdrawal. The FBI blamed the hack on the communist government. Speaking of executives at Sony Pictures Entertainment, Obama said at a year-end news conference, "I wish they had spoken to me first. ... We cannot have a society in which some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship."


No word yet from Fidel amid historic US-Cuba shift
HAVANA (AP) - Everyone in Cuba is talking about the startling turn in relations with the United States, with one notable exception: Fidel Castro. So far, the larger-than-life retired Cuban leader has made no public comment on the biggest news in years - that the U.S. and his island nation will restore diplomatic relations after more than 50 years of hostility.


Human rights in spotlight after US-Cuba deal
HAVANA (AP) - To many exiles and their allies, President Raul Castro is a brutal dictator who locks up dissenters in gulag-like jails, snuffs out political discourse and condemns his people to socialist poverty. Cuba's supporters see the government as heroic, its sins justified by the behavior of its giant enemy to the north, and offset by the fact it provides health care and education that most developing countries could only dream of.


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Obama cautions that change may be slow to come to Cuba
WASHINGTON (AP) - Tempering his historic Cuba policy shift with a dose of realism, President Barack Obama said Friday that change may not come quickly to the communist island. He suggested Congress will keep the U.S. economic embargo in place until lawmakers can gauge the pace of progress in the "hermetically sealed society." Still, Obama's surprise announcement this week that the U.S. was ending its Cold War diplomatic freeze with Cuba appeared to have contributed to energizing the president as he closes a difficult sixth year in office.


Australian woman arrested in deaths of 8 children
SYDNEY (AP) - An Australian woman was arrested for murder in the killings of eight children, seven of whom are believed to be her own, police said Saturday. The children were found dead inside the woman's home. The 37-year-old woman, who is recovering in a hospital from stab wounds, was under guard and speaking with police, Queensland Police Detective Inspector Bruno Asnicar said. She has not yet been charged.


Driver pleads not guilty in pedestrian deaths
TORRANCE, Calif. (AP) - A woman accused of killing four people, including a 6-year-old boy, while running her car into pedestrians outside a California church appeared in court Friday cuffed to a gurney and pleaded not guilty to vehicular manslaughter charges. An attorney for Margo Bronstein, 56, entered the plea on her behalf to four counts of gross vehicular manslaughter and one count of driving under the influence of a drug causing injury.


Tick-tock: Tips for last-minute shoppers
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - The clock is ticking, and your holiday shopping list isn't complete. Don't fret - you aren't alone.


Theater shooter's parents plead for his life
DENVER (AP) - The parents of Colorado theater shooter James Holmes begged Friday for his life to be spared through a plea bargain - a move that rekindled the long-running, emotional debate about whether the horrific details of the mass killing should be played out at his upcoming trial. The statement released by Robert and Arlene Holmes emphasized a key legal issue in the tortured history of the case - James Holmes' mental state when he killed 12 people and injured 70 others, and whether he should die if convicted of the crime.


More than 4 million people watched 1st dog telethon
LOS ANGELES (AP) - More than 4,400 people filed adoption papers for homeless dogs during what was billed as the first all-star dog adoption telethon, producers say. "If only half of those result in adoptions, that would be huge," director Michael Levitt said.


Sony on shelving 'The Interview': 'We had no choice'
NEW YORK (AP) - Following pointed criticism from President Barack Obama for shelving "The Interview," Sony Pictures Entertainment on Friday defended its decision, claiming it had no choice but to cancel the film's Christmas Day theatrical release. Obama said during a press conference Friday that Sony "made a mistake" in dropping "The Interview." However, the studio fired back, saying the cancellation happened only because the country's top theater chains pulled out. "This was their decision," Sony said in a statement.

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