Thursday, December 18, 2014         

New York Times

They crowded around old, battered televisions in Havana and erupted in tears and applause at a spectacle they could scarcely imagine, let alone believe: President Raul Castro, followed by President Barack Obama, heralding a new era of relations between Cuba and the United States.

Michelle Dodds bounded through a downtown that, to the untrained eye, seemed to be dominated by gleaming skyscrapers and sports arenas, the kind of shimmering modern structures that lend credence to the stereotype of this being a young city devoid of history.

At a dinner in one of Fidel Castro's palaces in 1999, the leader of Cuba and several of Major League Baseball's senior executives discussed one of the few common bonds between their countries: baseball.

Around the time that grisly images of beheadings circulated across the world this fall, Prime Minister Tony Abbott of Australia introduced a raft of laws in response to what he said was an increasing threat that the Islamic State would attempt a bold act of terrorism on Australian soil.

The Obama administration overturned a ban preventing a wealthy, politically connected Ecuadorean woman from entering the United States after her family gave tens of thousands of dollars to Democratic campaigns, according to finance records and government officials.

Sunset magazine, which for more than a century has chronicled California living from the kitchen to the patio and beyond, will pack up its test kitchens and garden tools and find a new home.

Jack Phillips is a baker whose evangelical Protestant faith informs his business. There are no Halloween treats in his bakery — he does not see devils and witches as a laughing matter. He will not make erotic-themed pastries — they offend his sense of morality.

More than a dozen Navy F/A-18 warplanes roar off this aircraft carrier every day to attack Islamic State targets in support of Iraqi troops battling to regain ground lost to the militants in June.

When an Iraqi court sentenced a prominent Sunni politician to death recently, it seemed like an unmitigated disaster for the country's new prime minister, Haider al-Abadi.

After an 83-year-old widow and amateur painter tried her hand at restoring a nearly century-old fresco of Jesus crowned with thorns in her local church here, she faced nothing but scorn and ridicule.

The storybook rise of Jean-Luc Martinez begins where he grew up, in a Paris suburb dominated by blocky public housing. It ends deep within the opulent palace of the Louvre museum, where he is plotting what he calls a "petite rivolution."

Sony Pictures Entertainment warned media outlets on Sunday against using the mountains of corporate data revealed by hackers who raided the studio's computer systems in an attack that became public last month.

Montana has never been known as a black-tie place. Governors wear cowboy boots and bolo ties, and people joke that a tuxedo is a pair of black jeans and a sport coat.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie offered a cutting assessment of Hillary Rodham Clinton's electoral weaknesses recently, telling a group of energy executives that she lacked her husband's political talents and personal appeal.

James Brown's will was meant to be everything his life was not. The manic energy that fueled a career of funk classics, pyrotechnic dancing and relentless touring as the Godfather of Soul also contributed to a trail of broken marriages, estranged children, tax liens and brushes with the law over drugs, weapons and domestic violence.

The well-prepared Ebola fighter in West Africa may soon have some new options: protective gear that zips off like a wet suit, ice-cold underwear to make life inside the sweltering suits more bearable, or lotions that go on like bug spray and kill or repel the lethal virus.

Some companies have been called economic traitors for seeking to lower their tax bills by moving overseas. But life insurers are accomplishing the same goal without leaving the country, saving as much as $100 billion in federal taxes, much of it in the last several years.

When former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida quietly visited Sen. John McCain in his Capitol Hill office this fall, discussion turned to a subject of increasing interest to Bush: how to run for president without pandering to the party's conservative base.

In his 36th-floor hotel room overlooking Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, Merrill Newman developed a routine. He woke at 7:15, ate breakfast at 8 — eggs, toast and two cups of coffee — and then he waited.

When it comes to global warming, the United States has long been viewed as one of the world's worst actors. U.S. officials have been booed and hissed at during international climate talks, bestowed with mock "Fossil of the Day" awards for resisting treaties, and widely condemned for demanding that other nations cut their fossil fuel emissions while refusing, year after year, to take action at home.

Steven Norton, recovering from a severe stroke, is renewing the health plan he got this year through the Affordable Care Act insurance exchange. He will pay more in 2015 — $501 a month including his federal subsidy, up from $485. But for him, continuity matters more than price, so he has not logged on to HealthCare.gov to search for alternatives.

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