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Obama defends action on Cuba, Russia

WASHINGTON — In a spirited defense of his foreign policy, President Barack Obama said in an interview aired Sunday that normalizing relations with Cuba would bolster American influence there and that his diplomatic strategies to contain Russia and Iran are working.

NYC police killer had long criminal history

NEW YORK — The gunman who fatally ambushed two police officers in their squad car had a long criminal record, a hatred for police and the government and an apparent history of mental instability that included an attempt to hang himself a year ago, authorities said Sunday.

Cuban-Americans, Cubans protest ties

MIAMI — Cuban opposition leaders from the island joined Cuban American politicians and activists on Saturday, pledging to oppose President Barack Obama’s plan to normalize relations with the communist nation and disputing the notion their community is split by a generational divide.

North Korea proposes joint probe over Sony hacking

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea on Saturday proposed a joint investigation with the U.S. into the hacking attack against Sony Pictures Entertainment, warning of “serious” consequences if Washington rejects a probe that it believes would prove Pyongyang had nothing to do with the cyberattack.

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Democrats employ strategy to get the most bang for Obama nominations

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, and other Democrats have made a concerted effort over the past two years to seat as many federal judges as possible, and this week they could declare victory, having confirmed the most judges in a single Congress since 1980. But this strategy — based on the political calculus that lifetime judicial appointments will have greater, longer impact than executive branch nominees — means some federal agencies will still face serious gaps during Obama’s remaining time in office.

Digital dilemma: How will US respond to Sony hack?

WASHINGTON — The detective work blaming North Korea for the Sony hacker break-in appears so far to be largely circumstantial, The Associated Press has learned. The dramatic conclusion of a Korean role is based on subtle clues in the hacking tools left behind and the involvement of at least one computer in Bolivia previously traced to other attacks blamed on the North Koreans.

Hope and some fear in Cuba amid thaw with US

HAVANA — The restoration of diplomatic ties between Cuba and the United States unleashed expectations Thursday of even more momentous changes on an island that often seems frozen in a past of classic cars and crumbling Art Deco buildings.