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E.g., 12/18/2014
E.g., 12/18/2014
Cuban expats gain new political prominence

Cuban expats gain new political prominence

12/17/14 09:58PM

Rachel Maddow points out the large number of Cuban defectors in the American arts and sports communities who are about to become powerful lobbying voices for further breaking down the embargo wall between the United States and Cuba. watch

Pope Francis celebrated with mass tango

Pope Francis celebrated with mass tango

12/17/14 09:54PM

Rachel Maddow reports on an especially big day for Pope Francis who is not only credited with brokering a historic deal between the U.S. and Cuba, but who also celebrated his birthday, with thousands turning out to tango in St. Peter's Square. watch

US points at North Korea on Sony hack, threat

US points at North Korea on Sony hack, threat

12/17/14 09:26PM

David Sanger, national security correspondent for the New York Times, talks with Rachel Maddow about the degree of certainty of the U.S. assessment that North Korea is behind the hack of Sony Pictures and the subsequent terror threat against movie... watch

Time to update your diplomacy list

Time to update your diplomacy list

12/17/14 09:24PM

Rachel Maddow lists the few countries with whom the United States does not have diplomatic relations, a list now one country shorter as President Obama has announced the re-opening of relations with Cuba. watch

Spying, skullduggery permeate US/Cuba history

Spying, skullduggery permeate US/Cuba history

12/17/14 09:00PM

Rachel Maddow revisits the history of spying and counter spying between the United States and Cuba, including the conviction of the Cuban Five, behind the prisoner exchange that was a key component of the re-opening of diplomatic relations. watch

Ahead on the 12/17/14 Maddow show

12/17/14 07:29PM

Tonight's guests:

  • Michael Beschloss, NBC News presidential historian
  • David Sanger, chief Washington correspondent for The New York Times
  • Alan Gomez, USA Today immigration reporter

And here's executive producer Cory Gnazzo with what's coming up tonight:

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Wednesday's Mini-Report, 12.17.14

12/17/14 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:
 
* Welcome home: "The U.S. contractor who was freed Wednesday after five years in captivity in Cuba expressed support for restoring normal relations between the U.S. and Cuba, and celebrated his return to American soil. 'What a blessing it is to be a citizen of this country,' Alan Gross said in a short speech from his lawyer's Washington, D.C. office."
 
* Russia: "Trading in the Russian ruble was volatile early Wednesday morning, rallying briefly on news that the Finance Ministry was ready to sell some of its foreign currency reserves, and then weakening again."
 
* The day after: "Pakistan's army and intelligence chiefs traveled to Afghanistan on Wednesday to seek help locating the Pakistani Taliban commanders responsible for the massacre of students at a school here in Peshawar the day before, officials said."
 
* New York: "Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's administration announced on Wednesday that it would ban hydraulic fracturing in New York State because of concerns over health risks, ending years of uncertainty over the disputed method of natural gas extraction."
 
* A surprising retreat: "Sony Pictures has decided to pull their upcoming comedy 'The Interview' from distribution amid security concerns and reports that the five largest movie theater chains in the U.S. had decided to hold off on screening the film."
 
* Arizona: "The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday blocked the state of Arizona from enforcing a policy that denies driver's licenses to young immigrants granted legal status by President Barack Obama in 2012."
 
* As if the White House beat wasn't busy enough today: "President Obama granted clemency to 20 individuals -- including 12 pardons and eight commutations."
 
* No rush: "The Federal Reserve on Wednesday said it would be "patient" in deciding when to begin to increase interest rates, suggesting that the recent burst of positive U.S. economic data hasn't moved up widely-expected plans to begin to raise rates sometime next year."
 
* Does Russia's economic crisis threaten the U.S. economy? Not exactly. In fact, it might even help us a little, at least in the short term.
President Barack Obama speaks at an event on Oct. 2, 2014 in Evanston, Ill. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty)

The 'Obama refuses to lead' crowd falls silent

12/17/14 04:56PM

Kevin Drum pauses today to take stock of the recent actions from President Lame Duck.
So how have things been going for our bored, exhausted, and disengaged president? He's been acting pretty enthusiastic, energized, and absorbed with his job, I'd say.
It's funny, in a way, to think about how long ago the midterm elections seem. Seven weeks ago, President Obama was apparently supposed to be a defeated man, crushed by an electoral rebuke, pushed into irrelevancy by an ascendant far-right majority in Congress. It was up to the White House, the Beltway said, to start looking for new ways to make Republicans happy.
 
There's a script that lame-duck presidents are supposed to follow, and gosh darn it, Obama would be expected to play by the rules, slipping further and further out of frame.
 
But given today's developments, it's striking to realize what the president has done over the 58 days since the midterms.
 
Obviously, there's today's historic announcement about U.S. policy towards Cuba. There's also Obama's breakthrough climate agreement with China, the successful secret mission that freed American prisoners in North Korea, and the sharp reduction of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.
 
And that's just foreign policy. Closer to home, the president has unveiled a major new immigration policy that will bring new hope to 5 million immigrants; he's taken the lead on net neutrality; and he's scored a series of confirmation victories in the closing days of the Senate.
 
All of this comes against the backdrop of an improving job market, a highly successful ACA open-enrollment period, falling gas prices, a Russian crisis that arguably benefits the United States, and the number of Ebola cases in the United States falling to zero.
 
The White House's many critics don't want to hear this, but if Obama were a Republican, it's likely we'd be inundated with coverage about how "President Comeback just got his mojo back."

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