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6:00 PM ET, December 17, 2014


 Top Items: 
Peter Baker / New York Times:
Obama Announces U.S. and Cuba Will Resume Relations  —  WASHINGTON — The United States will restore full diplomatic relations with Cuba and open an embassy in Havana for the first time in more than a half-century after the release of an American contractor held in prison for five years, President Obama announced on Wednesday.
Katie Glueck / Politico:
Republicans livid over Cuba talks, call it appeasement  —  Republican reacted with outrage Wednesday over the Obama administration's move to normalize relations with Cuba, with some lawmakers casting it as appeasement and the product of extortion by the communist Castro government.
Sahil Kapur / Talking Points Memo:
Marco Rubio Challenges The Pope On Obama's New Cuba Policy  —  Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (R) torched President Barack Obama's new policy aimed at normalizing U.S. diplomatic relations with Cuba on Wednesday, and addressed Pope Francis' support for the president's move.
Associated Press:
AP sources: US, Cuba seek to normalize relations  —  1 photo  —  WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States and Cuba will start talks on normalizing full diplomatic relations, marking the most significant shift in U.S. policy toward the communist island in decades, American officials said Wednesday.
Elise Labott / CNN:
Cuba releases American Alan Gross, paves way for historic easing of American sanctions  —  Washington (CNN) — U.S. contractor Alan Gross, held by the Cuban government since 2009, was freed Wednesday as part of a landmark deal with Cuba that paves the way for a major overhaul in U.S. policy toward the island …
Florida's Cuban Americans rejoice at U.S. policy overhaul  —  (Reuters) - Some Cuban exiles rejoiced at the prospect of easier access to their relatives.  Some swelled with guarded optimism over the prospect of thawing relations between the United States and the communist island.
Evan McMurry / Mediaite:
Rubio Lays into Obama's Cuba Moves: ‘Worst Negotiator in Modern U.S. History’  —  Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) laid into President Barack Obama's impending normalization of relations between the U.S. and Cuba on Fox News Wednesday morning, saying Obama had traded away concessions for …
Erica Werner / Associated Press:
AP Interview: McConnell wants to stop coal rules
Evan McMorris-Santoro / BuzzFeed:
White House Credits Pope Francis For Facilitating Cuba Deal
James Oliphant / National Journal:
Obama Goes Cowboy on Cuba
Discussion: Political Wire
Peter Sullivan / The Hill:
Senate Dem: Cuba trade rewards ‘brutal behavior’
Bollettino Sala Stampa della Santa Sede:   Comunicato della Segreteria di Stato
New York Times:   U.S.-Cuba Shift May Change Political Landscape, Too
Washington Post:
Obama moves to normalize relations with Cuba as American is released by Havana
Igor Bobic / The Huffington Post:
Bob Menendez, Marco Rubio Torch Obama Administration Over Cuba Announcement
Discussion: Hit & Run and Slantpoint
Gregg Kilday / Hollywood Reporter:
Top Five Theater Circuits Drop ‘The Interview’ After Sony Hack  — The country's largest chains won't be showing the movie  —  The country's top five theater circuits have decided not to play Sony's The Interview, a knowledgeable source tells The Hollywood Reporter.
William Boot / The Daily Beast:
Exclusive: Sony Emails Say State Department Blessed Kim Jong-Un Assassination in ‘The Interview’  —  CEO Michael Lynton showed a rough cut of the movie to U.S. officials before moving ahead.  Now hackers are threatening to bomb any theater that shows it.  —  The Daily Beast has unearthed …
Brent Lang / Variety:
Sony Cancels Theatrical Release for ‘The Interview’ on Christmas
Sandra Sobieraj Westfall /
The Obamas: How We Deal with Our Own Racist Experiences  —  The Obamas open up about raising their daughters, the impact of stereotypes, and what's on the POTUS dance party playlist.  Subscribe now for instant access to the exclusive PEOPLE interview!  —  The protective bubble that comes …
Devin Dwyer / ABC News:
Obamas on Race: We've Been Treated Like the Help
Discussion: The Huffington Post and Eater
Chris Davis / KCEN-TV:
Words Exchanged Before KCEN Employee Shot in Station Parking Lot  —  (KCEN) - Law enforcement officials have taken a man who was hold up inside of a house into custody.  They are calling him a person of interest in the shooting of Patrick Crawford.  But they are not saying whether or not he is the shooter.
New York Times:
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's administration announced on Wednesday that it would ban hydraulic fracturing in New York State because of concerns over health risks, ending years of uncertainty over the disputed method of natural gas extraction.  —  State officials concluded that fracking …
Katherine Timpf / National Review:
U Michigan Department Chair: We Should ‘Hate Republicans’  —  A University of Michigan department chairwoman has published an article titled, “It's Okay To Hate Republicans,” which will probably make all of her conservative students feel really comfortable and totally certain that they're being graded fairly.
Josh Israel / ThinkProgress:
Terri Schiavo's Husband Speaks Out On Jeb Bush's Presidential Bid  —  Then-Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL) discussing the Terri Schiavo case in March 2005  —  In his announcement Tuesday that he would explore a 2016 presidential bid, former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL) promised to focus on …
Pew Research Center:
America's wealth gap between middle-income and upper-income families is widest on record  —  The wealth gap between America's high income group and everyone else has reached record high levels since the economic recovery from the Great Recession of 2007-09, with a clear trajectory …
Alice Barr / KHOU-TV:
Texas City truck seen on Islamic military group's Twitter feed  —  The phones are ringing off the hook at Mark-1 Plumbing in Texas City, for a reason no one there could have ever imagined.  —  “People think you are aiding and abetting terrorists?”  KHOU 11 News reporter Alice Barr asked Jeff Oberholtzer, son of Mark-1's owner.
Chris Smith Gonzalez / The Galveston County Daily News:
Texas City plumber's truck ends up in Syrian war
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 More Items: 
Lawrence Hurley / Reuters:
U.S. top court blocks Arizona from denying driver's licenses to immigrants
Discussion: FOX News Radio
Joy-Ann Reid / New York Magazine:
Eric Holder on Anti-Police Protests, Obama's Legacy, and His Final Battle As Attorney General
Discussion: Washington Post, Gawker and Mediaite
Mushtaq Yusufzai / NBC News:
A Dad's Hell: NBC Reporter's Kids Were Inside Attack
Tarini Parti / Politico:
Republican Martha McSally wins last House race of 2014
Zach Osowski / Herald Bulletin:
Alexandria church to close at year's end
 Earlier Items: 
Dan Froomkin / The Intercept:
Billion Dollar Surveillance Blimp to Launch over Maryland
Discussion: New York Magazine
Anna Lee / Greenville News:
Mother thought gun that killed son wasn't loaded, authorities say
Discussion: Addicting Info and Raw Story
James Cook / Business Insider:
Reddit Bans User Accounts After Receiving Takedown Requests From Sony Over Leaked Documents
Mark Murray / NBC News:
Hillary Clinton Early Leader in Presidential Race: Poll
James Carville / The Hill:
Why do people vote against their interests?
Discussion: Liberal Values