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Cuba releases American Alan Gross as U.S. prepares to overhaul Cuba policyThese moves represent the biggest shift in U.S. policy toward the island in decades.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Cuba has released American aid worker Alan Gross after five years in prison, a U.S. official said on Wednesday amid reports of a prisoner exchange that heralds a major overhaul of U.S. policy toward Cuba. The U.S. official said Gross was released on humanitarian grounds. CNN reported a prisoner exchange that also included Cuba releasing a U.S. intelligence source and the United States releasing three Cuban intelligence agents. U.S. President Barack Obama was to make a statement at noon on Cuba, the White House said. ...

City of Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado speaks with journalists in Little Havana in MiamiBy Zachary Fagenson and David Adams MIAMI (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. And some were simply "ecstatic." News on Wednesday that 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 rippled through the 1.5-million-strong exile community in the United States, many of them lifelong opponents of communist rule. ...

Handout photo of Former Kaufman County Justice of the Peace Eric WilliamsBy Lisa Maria Garza DALLAS (Reuters) - A Texas jury on Wednesday sentenced to death a former justice of the peace convicted of murdering a suburban Dallas prosecutor's wife in a revenge plot, with the judge saying he acted like some of the most notorious killers in recent U.S. history. The same jury that convicted Eric Williams, 47, on Dec. 4 of murdering Cynthia McLelland sentenced him to death after deliberating for less than four hours. ...

The move comes amidst reports that U.S. will try to normalize relations with Cuba.

President Barack Obama talks with President Raúl Castro of CubaPresident Obama will launch negotiations with Cuba.

In this Dec. 2, 2014 file photo, cars enter Sony Pictures Entertainment headquarters in Culver City, Calif. Hackers calling themselves Guardians of Peace on Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014 released another round of data leaks, including ominous threats against the premiere of Sony Pictures' film "The Interview," in which the group references the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. (AP Photo/Nick Ut, File)NEW YORK (AP) — The blow that the hacking attack has dealt Sony is spreading beyond the entertainment corporation itself to theater chains and movie goers alike. And the financial toll is adding up too.

Mark Rosekind testifies before a Senate Commerce Science and Transportation Committee hearing on his nomination to be administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Capitol Hill in WashingtonWASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Senate confirmed Mark Rosekind to lead the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which has come under criticism this year for not responding more quickly to evidence of potentially deadly vehicle defects. Rosekind, an expert on human fatigue, has spent the past four years as a member of the National Transportation Safety Board, which investigates major transportation accidents. The Senate confirmed his appointment by unanimous consent late Tuesday. ...

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks after accepting the Robert F. Kennedy Ripple of Hope Award during a ceremony, Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014 in New York. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)While Hillary Clinton may be the prohibitive favorite to win the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, the margin of American voters who would support her in a general election is razor thin.

Pakistani students pray during a ceremony for the victims of Tuesday's school attack, at a school in Karachi, Pakistan, Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014. Pakistan mourned as the nation prepares for mass funerals Wednesday for over 140 people, most of them children, killed in the Taliban massacre in a military-run school in the country’s northwest in the deadliest and most horrific attacks in years, officials said. (AP Photo/Fareed Khan)The nation begins burying the 142 victims, most of them children, of the school attack.

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