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AP Top Political News At 3:23 a.m. EST

Bush officials did little oversight of CIA program
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....

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."...

Obama says North Korea hacked Sony, vows response
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama declared 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....

EPA coal ash standards a setback for environmental groups
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Six years ago, there was a massive spill of coal ash sludge in Tennessee. Three years later, tons of coal ash swept into Lake Michigan. Last February, there was another spill and gray sludge spewed into the Dan River in North Carolina....

5 things to know about year-end tax breaks
WASHINGTON (AP) -- In an almost annual ritual, Congress has passed a last-minute package of temporary tax breaks, sparing millions of businesses and individuals from unwanted tax increases just weeks before start of filing season....

5 topics for Obama's year-end news conference
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Before President Barack Obama jets off to Hawaii for his annual Christmas vacation, he will carry out a White House ritual: the year-end news conference....

2016 hopeful Ben Carson pledges support for Israel
JERUSALEM (AP) -- In his first visit to Israel, prospective Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson said he is in awe of the Jewish state, inspired by its ancient holy sites, impressed by the resilience of people living in a perpetual conflict zone - and deeply disappointed in President Barack Obama....

Obama's Cuba switch forces exile groups to adapt
MIAMI (AP) -- Hours before President Barack Obama announced an end to a half-century of U.S. efforts to isolate Cuba's communist government, the Cuban American National Foundation opened the doors to its inviting new headquarters, with a modern glass and concrete lobby in the heart of Miami's Cuban exile community....

Obama renews tax breaks, creates ABLE accounts
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama signed legislation Friday that temporarily extends dozens of costly tax breaks for millions of businesses and homeowners, commuters, teachers and others....

Obama calls on women only at news conference
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Something was missing from President Barack Obama's year-end news conference. Male questioners....

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AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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Up to the Minute
Obama calls on women only at news conference

State Dept. warns US travelers to be extra careful

Obama renews tax breaks, creates ABLE accounts

After turbulent year, Obama aims for quiet Hawaii getaway

Bush officials did little oversight of CIA program

EPA coal ash standards a setback for environmental groups

Jindal defends January prayer rally at LSU campus

Secretive groups ran $25M in ads for state races

AP: Carolinas politicians get payouts from broker