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AP Top Political News At 4:52 p.m. EST

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....

Released from Cuba, Alan Gross says freedom is not free
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Alan Gross emerged Wednesday from five years of captivity in Cuba praising the Cuban people and offering a lesson he said he learned: Freedom is not free....

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 bringing their effort to Iowa, the pivotal early-voting state where there's already well-established organizing effort in place - for Hillary Rodham Clinton....

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....

Arkansas' model Medicaid experiment in jeopardy
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) -- Arkansas became the first Southern state to expand its Medicaid program in a way that many Republicans found acceptable. The state bought private insurance for low-income people instead of adding them to the rolls of the Medicaid system, which GOP lawmakers considered bloated and inefficient....

US, Cuba patch torn relations in historic accord
WASHINGTON (AP) -- After a half-century of Cold War acrimony, the United States and Cuba abruptly 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....

Republican wins Arizona House seat after recount
PHOENIX (AP) -- Republicans will have their largest U.S. House majority in 83 years when the new Congress convenes next month after a recount in Arizona gave the final unresolved midterm race to a Republican challenger....

US global aid chief to resign; oversaw secret Cuba programs
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The head of the nation's global development agency said Wednesday he will step down from his post in February, following an announcement by the U.S. government that it would start talks toward restoring diplomatic relations with Cuba....

Democrat Lauren McFerran sworn in as new labor board member
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Democrat Lauren McFerran is the newest member of the five-member National Labor Relations Board....

Obama: As a black man he's been mistaken for valet
WASHINGTON (AP) -- He may be president now, but Barack Obama says he's a black man who has been mistaken for the valet and worries his daughters could face stereotypes....

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Up to the Minute
In surprise, Wyo. senator to head budget committee

US, Cuba patch torn relations in historic accord

US-Cuba thaw could benefit farmers, energy and travel firms

Fed to be 'patient' about a rate hike; stocks soar

AP Interview: McConnell wants to stop coal rules

Reaction to release of Alan Gross, future US-Cuba relations

List of 20 convicts granted Clemency by Obama

Obama commutes sentences for 8 drug inmates under new policy

US wins release of spy held for years in Cuba jail

Yellen: Push unemployment rate lower to spur inflation