Following a year of talks conducted in secret, the United States and Cuba have agreed to establish diplomatic relations and open economic and travel ties, marking the most significant shift in U.S. policy toward the communist island in decades, American officials said Wednesday. "Isolation has not worked," Obama said in remarks from the White House. "It's time for a new approach." The announcement was accompanied by Cuba's release of American Alan Gross and the swap of a U.S. spy held in Cuba for three Cubans jailed in Florida.
Sony on Wednesday said it would cancel next week's planned release of The Interview, after most of the country's largest theater chains had decided not to show it. "In light of the decision by the majority of our exhibitors not to show the film ... we have decided not to move forward with the planned December 25 theatrical release," Sony said. The decision by Sony follows a threat on Tuesday from anonymous hackers that people should avoid going to theaters where the movie is playing. "Sony Pictures has been the victim of an unprecedented criminal assault against our employees, our customers, and our business. ... We are deeply saddened at this brazen effort to suppress the distribution of a movie," the company said.
The Taliban stormed a military-run school in northwest Pakistan on Tuesday, gunning down at least 126 people -- most of them children. Hours after the attack, Pakistani troops were still exchanging gunfire with the militants inside the Army Public School and Degree College in Peshawar. It is not known how many children are still at the school, which is for children of army personnel and has a capacity of 1,000. A Taliban spokesperson said six suicide bombers scaled the walls of the school with orders to kill older students about 10 a.m.
In the most serious legal challenge to date against Colorado's legalization of marijuana, two neighboring states have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down the history-making law. Nebraska and Oklahoma filed the lawsuit directly with the nation's highest court on Thursday. The two states argue in the lawsuit that, "the State of Colorado has created a dangerous gap in the federal drug control system. ... Marijuana flows from this gap into neighboring states, undermining Plaintiff States' own marijuana bans, draining their treasuries, and placing stress on their criminal justice systems," the lawsuit alleges.
The grand jury witness who testified that she saw Michael Brown pummel a cop before charging at him "like a football player, head down," is a troubled, bipolar Missouri woman with a criminal past who has a history of making racist remarks and once insinuated herself into another high-profile St. Louis criminal case with claims that police eventually dismissed as a "complete fabrication," The Smoking Gun has learned. read more
Ryan Cooper, The Week: The Republican Party's top priority is to raise taxes on the poor. Literally. In their first legislative deal following the 2014 midterms, Republicans tried to scuttle tax credits for those on the lower end of the income ladder Following their convincing victory in the 2014 elections, everyone is wondering what Republicans will do with their new majority in the Senate and House. Well, their policy agenda is becoming clear. It will be unrestrained class warfare against the poor. read more
Citizens for Tax Justice: All Americans pay taxes. Everyone who works pays federal payroll taxes. Everyone who buys gasoline pays federal and state gas taxes. Everyone who owns or rents a home directly or indirectly pays property taxes. Anyone who shops pays sales taxes in most states. The nation's tax system is barely progressive. Those who argue that the wealthy are overtaxed focus solely on the federal personal income tax, while ignoring the other taxes that Americans pay. But, as the table [at the link] illustrates, the total share of taxes (federal, state, and local) that will be paid by Americans across the economic spectrum in 2014 is roughly equal to their total share of income.
Thousands of Americans marched and rallied in New York, Washington, Boston, San Francisco and other cities around the country Saturday, voting with their feet against police brutality. Family members of those killed recently -- Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Akai Gurley, and John Crawford -- spoke at the "Justice for All" rally in Washington. Eric Garner's mother, Gwen Carr, said, "It's just so overwhelming to see all who have come to stand with us today. I mean, look at the masses. Black, white, all races, all religions ... We need to stand like this at all times."
Former CIA Director Gen. Michael Hayden on Thursday defended revelations from Senate Intelligence Committee Democrats that the agency used rectal rehydration on detainees. "These were medical procedures," Hayden said during a tense interview on CNN's The Lead with Jake Tapper. "I'm not a doctor. What I am told is that this is one of the ways that the body is rehydrated." read more
A northern white rhinoceros that zoo officials said was only one of six left in the world died Sunday at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Angalifu, who was about 44 years old, apparently died of old age. "His death brings this wonderful species one step closer to extinction," said safari park curator Randy Rieches. Poaching has pushed the critically endangered rhinos to the brink of extinction. His death leaves only one northern white rhino at the zoo -- a female named Nola -- one at a zoo in the Czech Republic and three in a preserve in Kenya. read more