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4:39pm

Wed December 17, 2014
Movie Interviews

Major Movie Theater Chains Drop 'The Interview' After Threats

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 6:26 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

4:34pm

Wed December 17, 2014
The Two-Way

Obama Issues 12 Pardons, Commutes 8 Sentences

President Obama commuted the prison sentences of eight people who were convicted of drug-related crimes Wednesday, in a move that also saw 12 presidential pardons issued, for offenses ranging from theft to running an illegal distillery.

Half of the eight whose sentences were commuted had been sentenced to life imprisonment.

Citing "unduly harsh sentences issued for drug offenses under an outdated sentencing regime," a White House official said Wednesday that all eight of those who were punished for drug offenses "would receive a substantially lower sentence today."

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4:31pm

Wed December 17, 2014
The Two-Way

Alan Gross' Release: How It Went Down

Alan Gross and his wife, Judy, in Washington on Wednesday after his release from a Cuban prison.
Algerina Perna Baltimore Sun/TNS /Landov

American Alan Gross had spent more than five years in a Cuban prison where he lost five teeth, 100 pounds and much of the sight in his right eye. He could barely walk because of chronic pain and was, his wife Judy Gross said in June, "despondent and very hopeless" because he had 10 years to go in his sentence for crimes against the Cuban state. Then, on Tuesday, his lawyer, Scott Gilbert, told him in a phone call that he was going home.

There was a long pause, his spokeswoman Jill Zuckman said today in Washington, and then Gross said, "I'll believe it when I see it."

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4:28pm

Wed December 17, 2014
Code Switch

An Updated 'Annie' And The Tradition Of Nontraditional Casting

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 6:26 pm

Quvenzhane Wallis (second from right) stars in an updated version of Annie, produced by Jay Z.
Barry Wetcher Sony Pictures Entertainment

That lovable moppet with the red dress, the curly hair, the big dog, and the even bigger voice is back.

This time, though, Little Orphan Annie is back with a difference: Quvenzhane Wallis is playing an African-American orphan in an ethnically diverse, up-to-date world. And that got us thinking about other instances where producers have breathed fresh life into familiar shows by making them dance to a new beat.

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3:47pm

Wed December 17, 2014
Shots - Health News

What Happens After You Get That Mammogram

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 8:37 pm

This graphic lays out the possible outcomes for 10,000 women if they start getting annual screening mammograms at age 50 and continue that for 10 years.
Courtesy of JAMA

Women and their doctors have a hard time figuring out the pluses and minuses of screening mammograms for breast cancer. It doesn't help that there's been fierce dissent over the benefits of screening mammography for women under 50 and for older women.

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3:39pm

Wed December 17, 2014
The Two-Way

Sony Cancels Christmas Day Release Of 'The Interview' Amid Threats

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 8:12 pm

A sign posted Wednesday on the box office window at the Sunshine Cinema in New York. The New York premiere of The Interview, a Sony Pictures comedy about the assassination of North Korean President Kim Jong Un, has been canceled.
Andrew Kelly Reuters /Landov

Updated at 5:10 p.m. ET

Sony Pictures has canceled the Christmas Day release of The Interview, the comedy that centers on a plot to assassinate North Korea's leader. The move came after the largest U.S. movie theater chains said they won't screen the film in the wake of threats against them by a group that also allegedly hacked Sony's internal documents.

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2:44pm

Wed December 17, 2014
The Two-Way

PHOTO: The Meaning in a Phone Call

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 8:53 pm

President Obama speaks with President Raul Castro of Cuba from the Oval Office on Tuesday.
Pete Souza The White House

On Tuesday, President Obama picked up the phone and talked to Cuban President Raul Castro.

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2:42pm

Wed December 17, 2014
The Two-Way

Alan Gross, U.S. Contractor Freed By Cuba, Says 'It's Good To Be Home'

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 2:56 pm

Alan Gross addresses a news conference in Washington on Wednesday hours after his release from Cuba.
Gary Cameron Reuters /Landov

American Alan Gross, who spent five years in a Cuban prison before his release today as a humanitarian gesture, said "it's good to be home," and that he hoped the U.S. and Cuba move past their "mutually belligerent" policies.

"Two wrongs never made a right," Gross said in Washington shortly after he returned to the U.S. aboard a government plane.

Gross appeared frail but cheerful. Some of his front teeth were missing.

Gross thanked President Obama and his national security team for working toward his freedom.

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2:20pm

Wed December 17, 2014
Parallels

The U.S. And Cuba: A Brief History Of A Complicated Relationship

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 5:49 pm

Fidel Castro looks up at the Jefferson Memorial on April 16, 1959. The Cuban leader visited Washington several months after seizing power. But U.S.-Cuban relations quickly frayed, and the U.S. imposed an embargo of the island in 1961.
AP

Just months after he seized power in Cuba, Fidel Castro visited Washington in April 1959. He placed a wreath at the base of both the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials and was photographed looking up in seeming admiration of both U.S. presidents.

For U.S.-Cuba relations, it was all downhill after that.

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1:54pm

Wed December 17, 2014
The Two-Way

New Cuba Policy Is Met With Cheers And Jeers On Both Sides Of The Aisle

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 3:46 pm

Updated at 3:42 p.m.

The Obama administration announced today that it would begin the process of re-establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba.

It's a contentious issue, and reaction has been swift. Here's a roundup:

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