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After the announcement of American Alan Gross being released from a Cuban prison, President Obama announces an end to an approach he says "for decades has failed" U.S. interests.
December 17th, 2014
10:17 PM ET

American Alan Gross freed from Cuba in historic deal

After 5 years in a Cuban prison, American Alan Gross is now free.

President Barack Obama's administration had secured Gross's release as part of a sweeping deal to thaw the decades-old diplomatic freeze with Cuba.

Gross was an American government contractor when he was sentenced to 15 years in a Cuban prison, charged with spying.

In exchange for Gross, the U.S. returned 3 Cuban spies imprisoned since 2001. The deal also included the return of a U.S. intelligence agent imprisoned in Cuba for nearly 20 years. Cuba also agreed to release 53 Cubans identified as political prisoners.

This deal to free Gross was negotiated in secret over the past 18 months. But was it a good or bad deal?

CNN's Erin Burnett has more.


Filed under: Alan Gross • Cuba • News • U.S.-Cuba relations
December 17th, 2014
10:02 PM ET

Pres. Obama on Sony attack: 'Go to the movies'

Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama says Americans should "go to the movies" without fear, despite hackers' threats against venues that show a controversial film that Sony has now decided to pull.

Sony announced Wednesday that it won't release the film - a comedy called "The Interview" that portrays an attempt to assassinate North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un - following hackers' threats to attack movie theaters that show it.

But Obama suggested in an interview with ABC News that the threats aren't credible.

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Filed under: News • Politics • Sony Hack
December 17th, 2014
08:26 PM ET

Caught on Camera: Thieves steal Barbie's Corvette

Two Florida men may be charged with grand larceny, but you can't deny they had a creative way of getting Christmas presents. CNN's Jeanne Moos reports on some heart-stopping shopping.


Filed under: Jeanne Moos • News
December 17th, 2014
02:35 PM ET

'Game changer': Cuba releases American Alan Gross, paves way for historic easing of American sanctions

Washington (CNN) - U.S. contractor Alan Gross, held by theCuban government since 2009, was freed Wednesday as part of alandmark deal with Cuba that paves the way for a major overhaul in U.S. policy toward the island, senior administration officials tell CNN.

President Barack Obama spoke with Cuban President Raul Castro Tuesday in a phone call that lasted about an hour and reflected the first communication at the presidential level with Cuba since the Cuban revolution, according to White House officials. Obama announced Gross' release and the new diplomatic stance at noon in Washington. At around the same time, Cuban president Raul Castro was set to speak in Havana.

President Obama announced a major loosening of travel and economic restrictions on the country. And the two nations are set to re-open embassies, with preliminary discussions on that next step in normalizing diplomatic relations beginning in the coming weeks, a senior administration official tells CNN.

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Filed under: Cuba • News
December 16th, 2014
09:36 PM ET

Friends of alleged UVA rape victim dispute details of her story

(CNN) - On a fall night two years ago, Jackie, the alleged victim of a brutal gang rape, recounted her story in vivid detail to two friends. She recalled the assault for Ryan Duffin and Alex Stock on picnic tables at the quaint University of Virginia campus.

"Her lips were quivering and (she) looked like somebody who had just been through some really traumatic experience," said Duffin, who met Jackie through a mutual friend at orientation. "I've never seen anyone look like that before. I really hope I never have to see anyone look like that again."

They sat outside a freshman dorm as she told of the shocking sexual assault, according to the friends. This was long before her account of the attack appeared in a now infamous Rolling Stone article published on November 19.

That harrowing account described how Jackie was lured to a fraternity house and allegedly raped by seven men at a Phi Kappa Psi party. The article sparked international outrage and portrayed the University of Virginia's response as cold and even tolerant of such horrific behavior.

Several weeks later, the magazine published an apology that raised questions about the authenticity of the story.

Duffin and Stock told CNN they remember a starkly different account than what appeared in Rolling Stone. Their version cast doubt over whether the man who allegedly orchestrated the attack even existed.

"I mean there are definitely some major holes in the story," said Stock, who also met Jackie through a mutual friend at summer orientation. "I think that that was pretty clear in the Rolling Stone piece... It was almost too perfect of a story."

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Filed under: Education • News • UVA rape scandal
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