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4:25 PM ET, December 18, 2014


 Top Items: 
Ken Thomas / Associated Press:
PAUL: TRADE WITH CUBA ‘PROBABLY A GOOD IDEA’  —  WASHINGTON (AP) — Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul said Thursday that starting to trade with Cuba “is probably a good idea” and that the lengthy economic embargo against the communist island “just hasn't worked.”  —  Paul became the first potential …
Obama libre  —  The last five weeks of the president's year were better than almost all the rest.  —  If President Barack Obama's year ended in November, it would have been one of the worst of his presidency.  —  Good thing he had the last five weeks.  —  Story Continued Below
Washington Post:
Obama gives the Castro regime in Cuba an undeserved bailout  —  IN RECENT months, the outlook for the Castro regime in Cuba was growing steadily darker.  The modest reforms it adopted in recent years to improve abysmal economic conditions had stalled, due to the regime's refusal to allow Cubans greater freedoms.
Daniel W. Drezner / Washington Post:
Every big question you have about the U.S. opening to Cuba, answered  —  So by now I'm sure you're aware that the Obama administration and Cuba's communist regime have pledged to restore diplomatic ties through a variety of means, which include an exchange of prisoners …
Steve Benen /
Republicans hardly unanimous on new Cuba policy  —  We've grown accustomed to some clear divisions among Republicans on foreign policy, with the Dick Cheney wing of the GOP aggressively at odds with the Rand Paul wing.  It's not exactly a 50-50 split - the former contingent is vastly larger than the latter …
Jonathan D. Salant / New Jersey Online:
Menendez on Obama Cuba deal: ‘I think it stinks’
Discussion: BuzzFeed
Dan Roberts / Guardian:
US-Cuba deal: a marriage 18 months in the making, blessed by Pope Francis
Discussion: Althouse
Peter Schroeder / The Hill:
Can Obama lift Cuba embargo alone?
Discussion: BuzzFeed and Instapundit
Rich Lowry / Politico:
The Castros finally hit the jackpot
Discussion: National Review
Alicia A. Caldwell / Associated Press:   New ties with Cuba won't change immigration rules
Boston Public Radio / WGBH News:
‘Governor, This Is Barack Obama, Formerly Of Somerville.’ … For the past eight years, Deval Patrick has joined Jim Braude and Margery Eagan on the radio each month to field calls from listeners.  On Thursday, he joined the hosts of Boston Public Radio for the final time as governor of Massachusetts.
Jaclyn Hendricks / New York Post:
Kim Jong-un death scene from ‘The Interview’ leaks online  —  Well, that was fast.  —  Right on the heels of Sony's announcement that the studio would be scrapping the Christmas Day release of “The Interview,” the film's controversial climax has surfaced.  —  The scene features North …
Discussion: Deadline and The PJ Tatler
Erik Hayden / Hollywood Reporter:
Texas Theater to Show ‘Team America’ In Place of ‘The Interview’
USA Today:
Official: North Korea behind Sony hack
Discussion: National Review, and Wired
US servicemen in first ground battle with ISIS - Kurdish media  —  American forces were involved in their first ground battle with Islamic State fighters, according to Kurdish media outlet Shafaq News, near the Ain Al-Assad base in the Anbar province of Iraq early Sunday.  The report could not be independently verified.
Discussion: Liberaland and Weekly Standard
Lolita C. Baldor / Associated Press:   Top Islamic militants killed; more US troops going to Iraq
Ronald Brownstein / National Journal:
Jeb Bush's 2016 Move Fuels Democratic Debate  —  If he captures the GOP nomination—and a share of the minority vote—Democrats will urgently need to boost their appeal among whites.  —  Jeb Bush's announcement this week that he will “actively explore” a 2016 presidential candidacy adds …
Marc Ambinder / The Week:
What the media gets wrong about Jeb Bush
Discussion: Bloomberg View and National Review
Robert Schmidt / Bloomberg Politics:
Lawrence Summers' $28 Million Payday, Courtesy of Elizabeth Warren  —  Senator Elizabeth Warren famously declared “there is nobody in this country who got rich on his own.”  —  That truism presumably includes President Barack Obama's former economic chief Lawrence Summers …
Discussion: Booman Tribune
Garth Kant / WND:
GOP LEGEND QUITS CONGRESS WITH MESSAGE FOR AMERICA  —  'I don't know who's happier to see me leave, Pelosi or Boehner'  —  Garth Kant is WND Washington news editor.  Previously, he spent five years writing, copy-editing and producing at “CNN Headline News,” three years writing …
Discussion: Raw Story and Right Wing Watch
Alice Robb / The New Republic:
Watching Colbert Makes Conservatives Even More Conservative  —  After nine years hosting one of the most popular comedy programs on air, it's hard to remember a time when Stephen Colbert might have been mistaken for the kind of conservative commentator he satires.
Discussion: Slantpoint
Nick Hanauer / Politico:
The Pitchforks Are Coming... For Us Plutocrats  —  To: My Fellow Zillionaires  —  You probably don't know me, but like you I am one of those .01%ers, a proud and unapologetic capitalist.  I have founded, co-founded and funded more than 30 companies across a range of industries …
Julia Marsh / New York Post:
Catsimatidis' daughter files for divorce from husband of 3 years  —  Andrea Catsimatidis and Christopher Cox tour the Great Wall of China in 2013.  —  This political love match was not made to last.  —  Andrea Catsimatidis, daughter of billionaire grocer and failed mayoral candidate John Catsimatidis …
Officials: Boko Haram kidnaps 185 women and children, kills 32 people  —  Kano, Nigeria (CNN) — Boko Haram insurgents kidnapped at least 185 women and children, and killed 32 people in a raid in northeastern Nigeria this week, local officials and residents said.
Discussion: The Daily Caller
Lanre Ola / Reuters:
Suspected Boko Haram gunmen kidnap 100 women, children in Nigeria
Discussion: Gawker and Shakesville
Business Wire:
Amazon Introduces Prime Now: One-Hour Delivery on Tens of Thousands of Daily Essentials Exclusively for Prime Members  —  Prime Now launches in Manhattan today with plans to expand to additional cities in 2015  —  SEATTLE—(BUSINESS WIRE)—, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) today announced Prime Now …
Joe Arnold / WHAS-TV:
Grimes pledges legal challenge if Paul attempts simultaneous races  —  Alison Lundergan Grimes says she will challenge Senator Rand Paul if he tries to get on the ballot for both Senate re-election and president  —  FRANKFORT, Ky. (WHAS11) — Six weeks after she lost her own bid for the U-S Senate …
James Hohmann / Politico:
Alison Lundergan Grimes: Rand Paul can't run for president and Senate
Discussion: American Spectator and WHAS-TV
Jazz Shaw / Hot Air:
In Vermont, single-payer healthcare quietly disappears  —  If you're looking for a state with a reliable Leftward tilt, you'd be hard pressed to do better than Vermont.  After all, this is the place which has repeatedly elected Bernie Sanders - a man who considers the Democrat Party …
Sarah Hurtubise / The Daily Caller:
Vermont's Giving Up On Single-Payer Health Care Over Ballooning Costs
Azi Paybarah / Capital New York:
At private meeting, union head tells officers to use ‘extreme discretion’  —  Police union leader Pat Lynch is telling officers to use “extreme discretion,” in response to what he said was a lack support from City Hall and Washington in the wake of a grand jury decision not to indict an officer in the death of Eric Garner last month.
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 More Items: 
Brad Aaron / Streetsblog New York City:
Vance Deal: $400 Fine for Unlicensed Driver Who Killed Senior in Crosswalk
Discussion: Gothamist
Associated Press:
President signs legislation ending Nazi benefit checks
Doubling down on state government coverage
Elise Viebeck / The Hill:
ObamaCare fines loom for uninsured
Discussion: RedState and Josh Blackman's Blog
Nick Hanauer / The Hill:
Give Americans the overtime pay they've earned
Discussion: Daily Kos and Hullabaloo
 Earlier Items: 
USA Today:
Putin: West wants to put Russian bear ‘on a chain’
Joe Pompeo / Capital New York:
A year of transformation for The New York Times
Kevin Drum / Mother Jones:
Obama's Had a Helluva Good Month Since the Midterms
Tim Alberta / National Journal:
Return of the Kingmaker: Jim DeMint Is Getting Back in the Game