By JULIE PACE and MATTHEW LEE, AP | Updated: Wed, Dec 17, 2014
WASHINGTON — American Alan Gross was released from a Cuban prison after five years Wednesday, a surprise move that could pave the way for a major shift in U.S. policy toward the communist island nation, senior Obama administration officials said.
Gross, 65, was on an American government plane bound for the U.S. Wednesday morning after being released on humanitarian grounds by the Cuban government at the request of the Obama administration. As part of the secret negotiations to secure his release, the U.S. was releasing three Cuban jailed in Florida for spying.
Obama administration officials have considered Gross’ imprisonment an impediment to improving relations with Cuba.
By KRISTEN GELINEAU, AP | Published: Mon, Dec 15, 2014
SYDNEY — A swarm of heavily armed police stormed a cafe in the heart of downtown Sydney early Tuesday, ending a siege where a gunman had been holding an unknown number of people hostage for more than 16 hours.
A police spokesman confirmed “the operation is over,” but would not release any further details about the fate of the gunman or his remaining captives.
After a flurry of loud bangs, police swooped into the Lindt Chocolat Cafe shortly after five or six hostages were seen running from the building.
After the police moved in, one weeping woman was helped out by the officers and at least two other people were wheeled out on stretchers.
By ANDREW TAYLOR, AP | Published: Fri, Dec 12, 2014
WASHINGTON — It’s now up to the Senate to pass a huge $1.1 trillion spending bill to keep the government running, but not before a battle between old school veterans and new breed freshmen such as tea partier Ted Cruz and Elizabeth Warren, a liberal with a national following.
The smart money’s on old school types such as Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and GOP Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
The measure passed the House on Thursday after a day of drama but by a relatively comfortable 219-206 vote.
By MAAMOUN YOUSSEF, AP | Published: Mon, Dec 1, 2014
CAIRO — An Egyptian militant organization allied with the Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the killing of an American oil worker.
Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, which now refers to itself as the Sinai Province, said on its official Twitter account late Sunday that it killed William Henderson. It published pictures of his passport and two identification cards. It did not say when or how it killed him.
The passport said he was a 58-year-old from Texas and his identification cards said he worked for Texas-based energy company Apache Corp. and Qarun Petroleum Co., a joint venture with Egypt.
Apache said in August that one of its supervisors had been killed in an apparent carjacking in Egypt’s Western Desert.
JIM VERTUNO, Associated Press | Updated: Fri, Nov 28, 2014
AUSTIN, Texas — Authorities shot and killed a man who they say opened fire on Austin police headquarters early Friday morning, and a bomb squad was called in to search his vehicle.
The man also targeted a U.S. courthouse and the Mexican Consulate, Assistant Poice Chief Raul Munguia said at a news conference. Officers were searching the suspect’s Austin-area residents for possible explosives.
Police did not immediately confirm whether the man, whose name was not immediately released, had explosives.
The gunfire was reported at 2:22 a.m. Friday, Munguia said, and some bullets hit police headquarters. Munguia did not immediately say whether the consulate and the courthouse were damaged. Both were closed at the time
BY THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | Published: Fri, Nov 28, 2014
NEW YORK — A decision by OPEC this week to maintain current levels of oil production is hammering major energy companies in the U.S. and abroad.
Many energy experts had expected the group of oil producing countries, which met in Vienna this week, to act to halt a free fall in the price of crude oil since this summer.
A barrel of benchmark U.S. crude, which cost well above $100 as recently as June, had fallen to about $73 as of this week. OPEC announced Thursday that it would not cut production in hopes of hurting producers in the U.S. and elsewhere that have been flooding the market with crude and natural gas.
The effect was immediate.