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Last Updated Dec 18, 2014 07:38PM

Washington • Budget cuts at the IRS could delay tax refunds, reduce taxpayer services and hurt enforcement efforts, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said Thursday. About half the people who call the IRS for assistance this filing season won’t be able …

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  • Files of more than 40,000 federal workers breached
    Washington • The computer files of more than 40,000 federal workers may have been compromised by a cyberattack at federal contractor KeyPoint Governme...
    Updated Dec 18 2014 03:57 pm   |     |   Share
  • People line up to take the bus outside the Capitolio in Havana, Cuba, Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014. How does one end almost 54 years of hostility toward a next-door neighbor? That’s about to become clear as the Obama administration and the communist government of Raul Castro move to normalize more than a half-century of bitter animosity between the United States and Cuba. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa) Next steps on Cuba: Normalizing could take awhile
    Washington • How does one end almost 54 years of hostility toward a next-door neighbor? That’s about to become clear as the Obama administration and t...
    Updated Dec 18 2014 08:02 pm   |     |   Share
  • Judge bars Arizona from denying driver’s licenses to young immigrants
    Phoenix • A judge cleared the way Thursday for thousands of young immigrants in Arizona who are protected from deportation under an Obama administrati...
    Updated Dec 18 2014 08:05 pm   |     |   Share
  • Nebraska, Oklahoma sue neighboring Colorado over marijuana legalization
    Lincoln, Neb. • Nebraska and Oklahoma on Thursday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to declare Colorado’s legalization of marijuana unconstitutional, sayin...
    Updated Dec 18 2014 02:38 pm   |     |   Share

  • FILE - In this Sept. 30, 2014 file photo, then-Secret Service Director Julia Pierson pauses while testifying on Capitol Hill in Washington. An external review of the Secret Service says the next director should be hired from outside the insular agency. The Homeland Security Department released an executive summary of the assessment on Thursday. The review was led by four former officials, two who served under President Barack Obama and two from the administration of former President George W. Bush. It was launched after a security breach at the White House in September.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File) Report: Secret Service needs outsider as leader
    Washington • The Secret Service is an “insular” agency that needs a new director hired from the outside, according to former government officials task...
    Updated Dec 18 2014 03:34 pm   |     |   Share
  • U.S. announces protections for transgender workers
    Washington • The Justice Department is now interpreting federal law to explicitly prohibit workplace discrimination against transgender people, accord...
    Updated Dec 18 2014 07:37 pm   |     |   Share
  • This photo combo provided by the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center via NASA, shows NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko. Kelly and Kornienko will rocket into orbit from Kazakhstan in March, 2015. They will spend a year aboard the International Space Station. At a news conference Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014,  at UNESCO headquarters in Paris, Kelly and Kornienko said they anticipate many scientific gains from their mission. (AP Photo/Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center via NASA) 2 astronauts will expand envelope with 1-year spaceflight
    Cape Canaveral, Fla. • The two men assigned to a one-year spaceflight said Thursday that their upcoming mission will allow the world to push deeper in...
    Updated Dec 18 2014 10:54 am   |     |   Share
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures during his annual news conference in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014. The Russian economy will rebound and the ruble will stabilize, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday at his annual press conference, he also said Ukraine must remain one political entity, voicing hope that the crisis could be solved through peace talks. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin) Putin: West wants to defang, declaw Russian bear
    Moscow • Sternly warning the West it cannot defang the metaphorical Russian bear, a confident-looking President Vladimir Putin promised Thursday to sh...
    Updated Dec 18 2014 08:03 pm   |     |   Share
  • FILE - In this July 16, 2013 file photo, a woman walks by a sign at Cyber Terror Response Center of National Police Agency in Seoul, South Korea. Most North Koreans have never even seen the Internet. But the country Washington suspects is behind a devastating hack on Sony Pictures Entertainment has managed to orchestrate a string of crippling cyber infiltrations of South Korean computer systems in recent years, officials in Seoul believe, despite North Korea protesting innocence. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon, File) A look at North Korea’s cyberwar capabilities
    Seoul, South Korea • Most North Koreans have never seen the Internet. But the country Washington suspects is behind a devastating hack on Sony Picture...
    Updated Dec 18 2014 09:18 am   |     |   Share
  • This photo provided by Columbia Pictures - Sony shows, Randall Park, center, as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Columbia Pictures' Sony cyberattack may be costliest ever
    New York • The unprecedented hack of Sony Pictures which a U.S. official says is linked to North Korea may be the most damaging cyberattack ever infli...
    Updated Dec 18 2014 09:18 am   |     |   Share
  • Supreme Court justices to discuss Louisiana gay marriage case
    Washington • The Supreme Court has added the challenge to Louisiana’s same-sex marriage ban to the agenda for the justices’ closed-door conference on ...
    Updated Dec 17 2014 03:39 pm   |     |   Share
  • Canada hosted secret meetings between Cuba and U.S.
    Toronto • Canada hosted about seven meetings between the U.S. and Cuba that helped lead to President Barack Obama’s announcement Wednesday that the tw...
    Updated Dec 17 2014 02:24 pm   |     |   Share
  • In this photo provided by Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Pope Francis is presented with a cake during his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014. Pope Francis got a cake, cards and a tango demonstration for his 78th birthday Wednesday, and 800 kilograms of chicken meat for the poor. (AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano) Pope played crucial role in U.S.-Cuba rapprochement
    Vatican City • The crucial role played by Pope Francis in bringing Cuba and the United States together signals that history’s first Latin American pop...
    Updated Dec 17 2014 02:23 pm   |     |   Share
  • Florida gay divorce granted by judge in push to have gay-marriage ban declared unconstitutional
    Fort Lauderdale, Fla. • The first formal divorce for a gay couple in Florida history was granted Wednesday by a Broward County judge who used the case...
    Updated Dec 17 2014 03:29 pm   |     |   Share
  • FILE - In this Dec. 10, 2013 file image from TV, U.S. President Barack Obama shakes hands with Cuban President Raul Castro at the FNB Stadium in Soweto, South Africa, in the rain for a memorial service for former South African President Nelson Mandela. Obama on Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014 declared the end of America's U.S., Cuba patch torn relations in historic accord
    Washington • After a half-century of Cold War acrimony, the United States and Cuba moved on Wednesday to restore diplomatic relations — a historic shi...
    Updated Dec 17 2014 09:51 pm   |     |   Share
  • This handout photo from the Twitter account of Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz. shows Alan Gross arriving at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014. The US and Cuba have agreed to re-establish diplomatic relations and open economic and travel ties, marking a historic shift in U.S. policy toward the communist island after a half-century of enmity dating back to the Cold War, American officials said Wednesday. The announcement came amid a series of sudden confidence-building measures between the longtime foes, including the release of American prisoner Alan Gross, as well as a swap for a U.S. intelligence asset held in Cuba and the freeing of three Cubans jailed in the U.S. Gross' wife Judy is at center. (AP Photo/Jeff Flake)  Cuba releases U.S. spy after 20 years imprisonment
    Washington • Cuba has freed a Cuban man who was imprisoned for nearly 20 years for spying for the United States, American officials said Wednesday as ...
    Updated Dec 17 2014 11:43 am   |     |   Share
  • John O'Brien, one of hostages of the Sydney cafe siege, poses for a photo as he relaxes in his front yard in Sydney, Australia, Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014. O'Brien, 82, was the first hostage to escape the Lindt Chocolat Cafe after a gunman took 17 people hostage on Monday Dec. 15. Three people including the gunman were shot after police ended the siege at the coffee shop early Tuesday. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith) ‘This is not going to end well’: Sydney hostage talks of daring escape
    Sydney • The siege at the Sydney cafe had been going on for more than five hours and 82-year-old John O’Brien had become convinced the gunman was insa...
    Updated Dec 17 2014 01:36 pm   |     |   Share
  • FILE - In this April 7, 2009 file photo, tourists ride in classic cars along Havana's Malecon. President Barack Obama’s announcement Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014, of plans to re-establish diplomatic ties with the Caribbean nation gives hope to airlines, hotel chains and cruise companies _ all which have been quietly eyeing a removal of the travel ban _ that they soon will be able to bring tourists to Cuba. (AP Photo/Javier Galeano, File) U.S. travel industry carefully eyeing Cuba tourism
    New York • Cuba was once a haven for sun-seeking American tourists. Beautiful beaches, lively casinos and late-night dancing made it the perfect getaw...
    Updated Dec 17 2014 11:33 am   |     |   Share
  • Teachers and students listen to a live, nationally broadcast speech by Cuba's President Raul Castro about the country's restoration of relations with the United States, at a school in Havana, Cuba, Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014. Castro said profound differences remain between Cuba and the U.S. in areas such as human rights, foreign policy and questions of sovereignty, but that the countries have to learn to live with their differences Raul Castro welcomes renewal of relations with U.S.
    Havana • Cuban President Raul Castro told Cubans Wednesday his nation has agreed to restore relations with the United States, 53 years after diplomati...
    Updated Dec 17 2014 11:30 am   |     |   Share
  • This undated photo provided by Sotheby's shows two nearly identical Tiffany wisteria lamps designed in 1901 sold by Sotheby's on Dec. 17, 2014, for more than $1  million each.   (AP Photo/Sotheby's) Tiffany wisteria lamps sell for more than $1M each
    New York • Two nearly identical Tiffany wisteria lamps designed in 1901 have sold for over $1 million each at auction. They sold at Sotheby’s on Wedne...
    Updated Dec 17 2014 11:12 am   |     |   Share
  • FILE - In this Dec. 12, 2104 file photo, President Barack Obama speaks in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington. He may be president now, but Barack Obama says he's a black man who has been mistaken for the valet. Obama tells People magazine that every black professional male his age has had someone hand over their keys while waiting outside a restaurant. That happened to him, he said. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File) Obama: As a black man he’s been mistaken for valet, waiter
    Washington • He may be president now, but Barack Obama says he’s a black man who has been mistaken for the valet. “There’s no black male my age, who’s...
    Updated Dec 17 2014 04:16 pm   |     |   Share