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AP Top Political News At 12:05 a.m. EST

Executions, new death sentences continue to fall
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Executions and new death sentences dropped to their lowest numbers in decades in 2014, an anti-death penalty group said in a new report....

US wins release of spy held for years in Cuba jail
WASHINGTON (AP) -- This much is known about the Cuban man who spied for the United States and was released Wednesday in a historic prisoner swap: He had access to closely held intelligence information at the highest levels of the Cuban government....

US, Cuba patch torn relations in historic accord
WASHINGTON (AP) -- After a half-century of Cold War acrimony, the United States and Cuba moved on Wednesday to restore diplomatic relations - a historic shift that could revitalize the flow of money and people across the narrow waters that separate the two nations....

Stolen emails reveal lapses in Sony security practices
WASHINGTON (AP) -- In the weeks before hackers broke into Sony Pictures Entertainment, the studio suffered significant technology outages it blamed on software flaws and incompetent technical staffers who weren't paying attention, even as hackers targeted executives to trick them into revealing their online credentials....

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....

Obama says people should 'go to the movies'
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama says his administration is taking the cyberattack against Sony studios seriously. He says people should "go to the movies."...

Freed American endured years of declining health
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Alan Gross spent five years wasting away in a Cuban prison, losing hope that he would ever be free and at one point apparently contemplating suicide. He dropped more than 100 pounds, developed hip problems and lost most of the vision in one eye....

Castro survived odd, often inept, US schemes
WASHINGTON (AP) -- For over half a century, the U.S. government's schemes to overthrow the Castro government were, if not successful, always creative: the poisonous cigars, the exploding seashell, the secret Twitter-like service in Cuba....

AP Interview: McConnell wants to stop coal rules
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., pledged on Wednesday to do all he can to stop President Barack Obama's coal plant regulations, saying a White House "crusade" has devastated his state's economy....

Effort to draft Warren into '16 race lands in Iowa
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- Liberal activists eager to draft Sen. Elizabeth Warren into a run for president are working the ground in Iowa, the pivotal early-voting state where an organizing effort is already in place - for Hillary Rodham Clinton....

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Castro survived odd, often inept, US schemes

Obama on Hanukkah says small acts can make miracles

US, Cuba patch torn relations in historic accord

Alaska ferry project caught in flap over US steel

In surprise, Wyo. senator to head budget committee

Freed American endured years of declining health

Jindal defends January prayer rally at LSU campus

Secretive groups ran $25M in ads for state races

AP: Carolinas politicians get payouts from broker


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