12.18.14:  “The Interview” release cancelled 


NEW YORK (AP) — In the showdown over “The Interview,” Sony has blinked. The studio has taken the unprecedented step of pulling the movie from theaters — a little more than a week before it was supposed to make its debut. The move was made in the wave of a huge data hack at the studio and threats from the hackers that there’d be 9/11 type attacks at theaters that show it. The U.S. government says it has traced the hacking attack to North Korea. The movie depicts a planned assassination attempt against that country’s communist leader. As the threat of a possible attack continued, Sony told theater chains they would allow them to pass on showing the film. And yesterday, as a number of chains decided to take Sony’s hint, the studio announced it was pulling the release.

12.18.14:  Havana residents celebrate new deal between US & Cuba


In Cuba, bells pealed and school children interrupted lessons to mark the historic news.  Havana residents gathered around television sets in homes, schools, and businesses to hear the historic national broadcast in with President Raul Castro announced that Cuba was restoring relations with the United States.


Castro said, “We should learn the art of living together in a civilized manner in spite of our differences.”  In his address, he called on Washington to end its embargo against Cuba, saying it had caused “enormous human and economic damage.”


Some Cuban exiles in Miami are outraged.  Others are ecstatic that President Obama secretly arranged prisoner exchanges with Cuba as part of an effort to normalize relations.  Some say they are happy that former U-S AID subcontractor Alan Gross is out of a Cuban prison, but are dismayed that 3 convicted Cuban spies were being released in exchange.

12.17.14:  Fed wraps up discussions


WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. economy is doing better, and the Federal Reserve may be ready to acknowledge that fact.

Fed policymakers wrap up their latest meeting with a statement on interest rates this afternoon. Analysts are expecting they will drop a promise to keep rates low for a “considerable time.”

Dropping that language would be viewed as a signal that the Fed is moving closer to an interest rate hike, though no immediate change in monetary policy is expected.

The Fed has said monetary policy will return to normal sometime next year following its history-making stimulus in the aftermath of the 2008 global crisis. Most economists expect it will wait at least until June to raise short-term rates.

The Fed will also update its economic forecast today, and Fed Chair Janet Yellen is scheduled to hold a news conference this afternoon.

12.17.14:  NYC premiere of Rogen film canceled as threats fly


NEW YORK (AP) — The New York premiere of the comedy “The Interview” has been canceled following threats of violence against theaters carrying it.

The Seth Rogen and James Franco comedy is about a CIA plot to kill North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, and security fears have spurred Sony to allow theater chains to cancel showings.

The New York premiere was scheduled for tomorrow night and the movie is expected to debut Christmas Day.

The Department of Homeland Security says there’s “no credible intelligence to indicate an active plot against movie theaters,” but it says it’s still analyzing messages from a shadowy group calling itself Guardians of Peace, which has escalated its attack beyond the hacking of private Sony emails.

The group had released a trove of data files including 32,000 emails to and from Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton.

12.16.14:  Death toll from GM ignition switches rises to 42


DETROIT (AP) — At least 42 people have died and 58 have been injured in crashes involving General Motors cars with defective ignition switches.

Attorney Kenneth Feinberg, who was hired by GM to compensate victims, updated the totals Monday.

Feinberg says he has received 251 death claims and 2,075 injury claims since August.

The fund so far has deemed a total of 100 claims eligible for compensation.

GM knew about faulty ignition switches in Chevrolet Cobalts and other small cars for more than a decade but didn’t recall them until February. The switches can slip out of the “on” position, which causes the cars to stall, knocks out power steering and turns off the air bags.

Feinberg will accept claims until Jan. 31.

12.15.14:  Uninsured need to sign up by Midnight


Midnight tonight is the deadline for new customers to pick a health plan under the health care law and for current enrollees to make any plan changes. and state insurance websites are preparing for heavy online traffic before the deadline.

Last year over 272,000 Michigan residents obtained health insurance as a result of the Affordable Care Act.

Kathleen Falk with the U.S. Health and Human Services Dept., says there are still too many people uninsured in our state and across the nation.


Falk hopes people will take time and do their research.  4 additional insurers are joining the Health Insurance Marketplace in Michigan and experts advise even those who enrolled last year, to take another look at the plans that are available.

12.15.14:  Justices reject Arizona bid over abortion drugs


WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is refusing to allow Arizona to enforce stringent restrictions on medical abortions while a challenge to them plays out in lower courts.


The justices on Monday left in place a lower court ruling that blocked rules that regulate where and how women can take drugs that induce abortion. The rules also would regulate the use of the abortion medications after the seventh week of pregnancy instead of the ninth.


Planned Parenthood was among abortion providers that challenged the rules in federal court. The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals prevented the state from putting them in place during the legal challenge. Similar laws are in effect in North Dakota, Ohio and Texas. The Oklahoma Supreme Court struck down the restrictions in that state.

12.15.14:  Kansas reports tornado, snow in same day


HARPER, Kan. (AP) — Kansas weather is often unpredictable but Sunday was a particularly odd day in the state.


The National Weather Service issued tornado warnings Sunday evening in Harper, Kingman and Reno counties in south-central Kansas. A tornado briefly touched down about five miles northeast of Harper but no injuries or serious damage was reported.


Later Sunday evening, snow began falling in Cheyenne County in far northwest Kansas.


Much of the rest of the state experienced rain and misty conditions.


Meteorologist Chris Jakub says the unusual weather occurred when warm and moist conditions met a strong upper-level system. He says the mix of weather was unusual for mid-December in Kansas.

12.12.14:  ‘Pineapple Express’ sweeps into Southern California after powerful wind, rain pound the north



LOS ANGELES (AP) — A dangerous storm that’s triggered flooding, power outages and evacuations in Northern California is starting to cause the same problems in the southern part of the state.

The Los Angeles area is getting light showers that forecasters say will intensify as the day progresses. Strong winds already have caused power outages for thousands around Santa Barbara and other parts of the coast.

Fears of mudslides have prompted precautionary evacuations in the Los Angeles suburb of Glendora, where the foothills were stripped bare by a major wildfire earlier this year.

Yesterday, the brunt of the storm hit the San Francisco Bay Area and the surrounding region, pushing waterways toward flood stage, toppling trees, and cutting power to thousands.

In Oregon, the winds proved deadly. A falling tree killed a homeless man who was sleeping on a trail, and a teenage boy died after a large tree fell on the vehicle in which he was riding, causing it to swerve and hit another tree.

12.12.14:  Senate to take up $1.1T bill to keep govt running


WASHINGTON (AP) — 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.

The measure passed the House after a day of drama Thursday but by a relatively comfortable 219-206. The vote came after GOP leaders sent the House into a seven-hour recess to give the White House time to lobby Democrats angry that the measure weakens rules on the financial industry and allows wealthy donors to pour hundreds of thousands of dollars into political parties.