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tv   NOW With Alex Wagner  MSNBC  December 17, 2014 1:00pm-2:01pm PST

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>> this policy shift is based on an illusion a lie. >> 50 years have shown that it hasn't workd. >> it pains me to hear congress insult the president. the president is doing what he's been elected to do. >> i'm as anti-castro as any of them. i think this is a good move. >> this is about freedom and openness. >> in president is the single worse negotiator that we've had in the white house in my lifetime. >> it's time for a new approach. today after more than half century of economic them bargo and political obstacles, president obama announced the renewal of diplomatic relations with cuba. first shift since 1961 when u.s. severed relations. 1961.
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president obama under scored the weight of the shift in a national address. [ speaking foreign language ]. >> change is hard in our own lives and in the lives of our own nation we are making the change because it is the right thing to do. today america chose to cut loose the shackles of the past and reach for a better future for the cuban people, the american people, the entire hemisphere, the world. >> castro took over from his brother in 2006, he praised his american counter part. >> translator: this decision of president obama is worthy of the respect and recognition of our people. >> in the next few months the u.s. will reestablish an embassy in half anna.
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travel restrictions in place since the cuban missile crisis will be eased making it easier for exiles to see their families. in exchange 33 political prisoners will be released. allen gross was released and a separate source. he was arrested in 2009 and later sentenced to 15 years in cuban prison for importing banned technology and trying to establish internet service for a jewish community in cuba. >> in my last letter to president obama i wrote that despite my five-year tenure in captivity i would not want to trade place wz him. and i certainly wouldn't want to trade places with him on this glorious day. it was particularly cool to be sitting next to the secretarile of state as he was hearing about
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his job description for the next couple months. in all seriousness this is a game changer which i fully support. >> white house correspondent joins us now, nbc anchor and presidential historian, thank you all for being with us. jose' let me start with you first. in terms of the magnitude of this decision, the affect it will have on cuban-american exiles and families in the united states, do you sense this news will generally be greeted with outstretched arms? with positivity. i know the notion of normalizing relations has been fraut among cuban-americans how has it changed. >> that is a good change. i can't speak one way or the other, but i think all of them want to see democracy and changes in cuba regardless how
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they feel about the embargo. everyone is unite in their will to see changes in cuba that start within the island and only have to do with what happens inside the island. disdents have been asking for support for many years for their desire to see changes within cuba. the question is how is that going to happen? and what can prompt changes in cuba? i think a lot of people here in the united states that left their countries or who's parents left their countries really wish to see changes and are wondering what will it take to get change in cuba. >> let me follow up on that, do you think this strengthens raul castro's mands the fact he is engaging with america. is he helped politically by this. >> i think he is helped
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financially. let's remember for many years soviet union was the number one client the castro regime had. when that dried up and went away they were saved financially by the chavez government in venezuela. that today 100 thousands of barrels every day going to cuba every day. they see that is a jeopardy. prices of oil is dropping. so they are seeing this could be a life line to them maintaining power because they will have a whole new avenue for financial support. the question is, what is it going to do for the people of cuba? and that is an unreanswered question. >> peter, this day began, we woke up with the news started
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with allen gross' release which was big news and then this snow balling effect that we're on the path to normalizing relations with cuba. my question to you as someone who covers the white house, there have been major land mark agreements with countries like china and cuba with whom we've had difficult relations with. they have done these negotiat n negotiations almost entirely in secret. how unprecedent is that kind of negotiatations. >> it is hard to keep any secrets in today's world but they did manage to keep this one. obama had an idea to make the break through for his second term. you heard what might happen after the midterm election that he could put aside domestic politics of a decision like this but in the way was allen gross
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'imprisonment, with him in prison there was no way for the president to move forward. so over the last 18 months they have had secret negotiations, nine meetings, most of them in canada most important one was at the vatican sponsored by the pope himself. at some point there was an expectation of allen gross' release, but so much more than that, the shift that obama has now announced, one that not is not greeted with jubilation everywhere. >> a big check mark on the proverbial bucket list. the daily beast's headline said obama smarter than 10 priests
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how glib is that. >> i don't think that's very fair assessment. but what i would look at here is that john quincy adams once said cuba is an apple if severed would naturally graph tate towards the united states. for the past 50 years they have graph tated towards russia. we are on the eve of ruble stumbling, there's an opportunity to heal u.s.-cuban relations. we now have normal relations with vietnam yet 58,000 americans died there and untold injured and hurt. so why not give this a try. you have pope francis on your side. big boom for president obama, after all one out of every four americans is a catholic.
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>> to that end the vatican played a fairly instrument role in all this, saying they received delegations of u.s. and cuba to the vatican last october does the endorsement of the vatican in all of this help among cubans on the island for i think 60% of them are catholic. >> yeah there are a lot of syncing going on in cuba of the religion. certainly there is a role of the catholic church in cuba that for the past 50 years has had a role in relations with the castro regime. i think it is not a surprise to many that the catholic church will be involved. a lot of people think back to john paul the second's visit to cuba in the 90s when he had open air mass that's were seen as something so odd at the time because this is a country for many years had banned christmas
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and to have the pope give masses there, the open air masses saying, don't be scared. it really changed people's perception of the future and about what could maybe happen to them in the future. so this maybe is an evolution. pope francis looking at john paul ii's actions in cuba and certainly that he had in poland. but they are very different times andrej ee very different regimes. and the fact united states didn't have economic interchange with cuba, all of the other countries in the world have exchanges with cuba, tourists go to cuba, this is a monument ale change in foreign policy. >> to that monday umpi monument. marco rubio calling the president the single wornegotia
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in the white house is it is the sense that the administration will leave the president whatever is done, which is to say, whatever is done we'll start and begin in the white house and congress is unlikely to take up any further normalizations of relations. >> great question. one that will play out in the next few weeks. the senate just left town. will be republican senate when they come back. not a lot of movements from house speaker towards lifting that embargo. i think you will see some fights about what will happen next. the president will open a diplomatic embassy in havannah. he will send in an ambassador, that means funding issues perhaps. you can see this congress getting involved if it decides it wants to oppose the
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president's policy. >> to the question of history, this cuba freeze happened under kennedy and we know bill clinton in the 90s tried to make overtures to make relations, it was skutled in 1996. were there other presidents who made efforts in earnest to try to normalize relations with cuba. >> jimmy carter was interested in it. he went down there a few years ago. everything that has just occurred is something that carter as an ex-president has been promoting. >> guys, thanks for your time. we have some breaking news this hour. we are just learning president
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obama has grant columblemency t individuals, this is especially significant because they are the first issued under the more lenient guidelines for non-violent drug offenders. guidelines meant to reduce the prison population. coming up we'll discuss the hack attack on sony. how exactly did james franco end up in the middle of a national security crisis. 235 that's next on "now." ♪ music ...the getaway vehicle!
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>> from a major diplomatic shift in cuba to a bizarre confluns of
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entertainment gio politics and national security all spurred by a couple guys from freaks and geeks. the movie is a comedy about a plot to assassinate kim jong-un, it has now spiralled into a full blown crisis following a hack attack on sony pictures. the premiere set for tomorrow have been called off. promotional screenings have been cancelled in detroit, baltimore, cincinnati and austin. sony will support all theater who's want to pull the film that is slated for christmas day. the alarm comes from guardians of paexs peace, the department of homeland security said they have no intelligence of plots of
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attacks on theaters. the nation's five largest chain will not show the film on christmas day. >> jesse, so we started talking about this by focussing on jolie and latent remarks made by amy pascal and i think we missed the big part which was the north korean regime has gotten really successful in terms of threatening a multi-million dollar company and scaring the heck out of the average consumer. >> this is so much more than a prank. it is cyber terrorism. it effects everyone. it effects business and is hugely costly and is ultimately a security issue.
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>> do you think in terms of cyber technology we generally take hacks seriously. j.p. morgan. e-bay, 140 million accounts. target up to 110 million people. there's awareness about what happens on line. >> but this is something of a different magnitude. it's amazing we have no credible intelligence for what this is. could be a couple teenagers in a hotel room. we have no link to the government yet look at the havoc it is wreaking. >> it is a weird confluence of the cyber world coming at a moment of national insecurity how vulnerable we are in the homeland. the fact guardians of peace mentioned september is enough for america's five largest movie
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chains to pull the movie and not screen it at all. >> it's also a free speech issue. the fact that a threat occurs and all of a sudden a movie is pulled all across the united states. it exposes unintended consequences and vast reach of the new kind of cyber war. that's the other striking take away. we've talked a lot about what it means to have a new kind of warfare this is a stark examipl of new kind of environment. americans haven't paid attention to it until now. i can't think of anything like this occurring like this in such a way a movie would be pulled about concerns about the political content of the film. that's very unamerican.
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>> and to be clear, it is a spoof. we maybe should foresee this given how seriously north coria takes their leadership. but the north koreani says this. >> i think that's generally a statement of support in terms of what the guardians of peace were trying to do in preventing this movie from being released. >> they are certainly not taking issue with it but it is unclear what that says exactly. >> in terms of cyber warfare it is hard to imagine that rogue states are not actively supporting cyber hacking, it is one of the most potent weapon
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they have in their arsenal. >> i wouldn't disagree but it this doesn't look like something the government is actively behind. this has been long, messy, been dragging on, it looks more like the work of activists. i think the point is we don't know. that's what makes it so dangerous. this could be a government, could be two teens in a hotel and both pose the same kind of danger to us now. >> when you think of two teens in a hotel derailing a multi-million dollar industry. suzanne, apparently sony consulted with at least two u.s. government officials and screened this film for them and they said the final scene, that sees kim jong-un's head explode, that it was okay. now again, this was a spoof, but from a foreign policy standpoint could we not presuppose that the
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north koreans wouldn't take this lying down. >> in a way, yes, but i would like to say as a journalist, the idea of the u.s. government and state department having preapproval on the foreign policy sensitivity of a movie, especially seeing as though it is a spoof. >> it does make me queezy that we are sending movie to the government for preapproval. >> -- seth rogen went and edited
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the scenes making it strange and bizarre. piracy is huge. it runs rampant around the world, especially in parts of asia. one can be fairly certain that this movie will see piracy around the globe. >> well look this is a big nightmare here, this is an incredible campaign for the film. i hadn't heard it before hand, probably wouldn't see it otherwise but now i'm watching the trailer online and thinking about it. how do you impress on viewers that they shouldn't be w5u67ing it. what sense of ethics can you compel me or my younger sister to embrace not to watch it. the danger here is this will become how hackers hack into entertainment companies and release their films. >> right they got advance copies of scripts and other movies.
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is this has proved to be ai very luke raltive hack. >> exactly. >> thank you for your times. hang with me. when we come back crickets in congress. the 113 congress has officially ended and nobody seems happier about that than the 113 congress. for practically just your signature, you could drive home for the holidays in a german-engineered volkswagen. like the sporty, advanced new jetta... and the 2015 motor trend car of the year all-new golf. if you're wishing for a new volkswagen this season... just about all you need is a finely tuned... pen. get zero due at signing, zero down, zero deposit, and zero first month's payment on select new volkswagen models. vo: the good more is capturing heey! the moment they open their gifts from verizon. awesome, woah! a bose bluetooth speaker! and...cut. the not-so-good-more alright honey, this time face towards the light. is take two. were you naughty? were you nice?
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>> thank god it's over, those were the words of joe manchin after the 113 congress with record low 203 bills signed into law past two years. beating the previous low by 112 congress. they managed to pass tax cut
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extenders that are had valid all the way to new year's eve. new year's eve of this year. in addition, a final act before eight years of harry reed's reign comes to a close and he hands over the gavel to mitch mcconnell. mcconnell's first bill will be to expedite the construction of the keystone pipeline. as for everything else, let us hope the 114th time is the charm to get things done legislatively. just ahead. >> i want to thank all the members of congress from all sides of the aisle. >> i will talk to congressman who was on the plane that brought allen gross back home from cuba that's next on "now."
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>> it's great to be back. it really did bring great comfort to me knowing that i wasn't forgotten. and that people were actively working on my behalf. >> that was u.s. contractor alan gross earlier today after arriving back on u.s. soil. it was historic day for the united states and cuba as the two countries established full diplomatic relations for the first time in over half century. three members were on the plane with him, one of them was chris who joins me now. thanks for joining me on a landmark, banner day. >> it's a great day, alex, yes. >> give us a sense, for those who missed it and want to know more, what was it like to be on that plane as you crossed into
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u.s. airspace? >> well, you know, a lot of us have been working hard to try and bring alan home, no one more so than his wife judy who was on the plane. there were times we thought we were close. but to finally be on that plane on the way to cuba to pick up alan gross was just an incredible feeling. of course when we walked into the tar mack into the building of the airport and saw him face to face, despite the fact as you can see he was frail and thin, he had a huge smile and an incredibly strong hug. he hugged just about everybody who came to bring him home. a miraclous moment. lots of hard work by a lot of people. >> the one thing striking is how this was shrouded in secrecy.
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here's something they did quite well in securing his release. how hard was it to keep this secret. >> as you could moving parts th came together. i have to credit the white house. chief of staff. security counsel advisor. they were able to pull this together many a confidential manner because it was very important that things not leak out and sabotage thee entire release, both in gross 'release and in policy change. nrz i believe it will open up opportunities to the cuban people. >> to that end there are a lot
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of people embracing this decision to normalize conditions. there are a few who are not. i want to bring up senator mendez who says this. what did you make of those comments? >> the reality is the current cuban government, the current regime has been sustained by the policy of isolation. the whole idea was we are going to punish cuba, isolate them, and that somehow will force them to open up and become a more democratic country. we tried that 54 years, it didn't work, the castro brothers have now survived eight presidents. i think the burden is on the critics to tell us why another 50 years of another policy will lead to a different result. the reality is we're trying to
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engage cuban people, more travel, more communication, more trade, and as you open up communities and communications with the cuban people they will demand more change. it won't happen overnight but clearly 54 years is enough time to go by to conclude the old policy wasn't working. >> there's work for congress to pulley normalize relations, do you expect the u.s. congress will move forward on the precedent the president has set? >> i don't think that's going to happen in the very near term. i do believe as we implement the actions that the president has announced that is that will take -- that will go a long way in opening cuba relations more. the president's announcement did normalize u.s. relations. it changed the diplomatic status of the relationship. i do hope over time congress will move to lift the embargo. i believe that again more trade
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and more engagement actually empowers the cuban people. we seen isolation empowers the castro regime. >> one last question, we know alan gross is your constituent and we know someone brought him m & m superstar ws was that you? >> there were great m & m's on the plane. another thing he was craving was pop cornco popcorn. so he was greeted with a big bowl of popcorn on the president's plane in havannah. >> we are glad he is free and evaluating popcorn. coming up we will discuss
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>> i told him he had mustard in his mustache. i couldn't actually see it. needless to say, he was thrilled. and you know, he landed at andrews in a plane marked the united states of america. [ applause ] he's going to be getting the medical attention he needs. he's back where he belongs with his family. >> that was president obama speaking about the release of alan gross from five years in cuban jail. we will have more on that coming up but first the market wrap.
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it has been one of our nation's longest foreign standing policy connunddrum and today president obama restored diplomatic relations with cuba. he spoke with raul castro yesterday for more than 45 minutes to finalize a deal ending a policy obama himself has opposed for over a decade. this was then state-senator barack obama ten years ago. >> the cuban embargo has
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squeezed the innocence in cuba. >> the president will have to wait for congress to ease the embargo but the policy shift is a break through nonetheless and the latest in a major string of foreign policy efforts, by the president's administration. one that will change his legacy. china talks, extended another 17 months and 18 detainees released from gitmo. the cuba shift comes at a time when russia ruble is falling. economic sanctions have been in place and the ruble has lost 50%
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of its value. 20% in the past two day as lo . alone. it is a occur ecurrency crash t could threaten putin's legacy. >> we talk a lot about his legacy been driven in large parts domestic policy but maybe foreign policy is the thing that will cement his policy. >> the past few weeks have been remarkable break throughs for the president. we have to acknowledge that a lot of these are not permanent. the next president could reverse a whole host of adpliccomplishm the administration did, including the one today. so while he is making impressive
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gains, there are precautions. the other thing is, it was over the summer that it looked like the president's foreign policy was in fact falling apart. the russians invasion and the march of isis. these things tend to be cyclical. i wouldn't imagine if in a few months we will be wonder what the heck happened. >> can vladimir putin get out of the economic crisis without the help of the united states? >> it's a very interesting question. there's already a pretty live debate, is this the russians ruble crash that barack obama caused, i think most experts would stay was contributing but not the main crash in the price of oil. and russia has a heavy economy on oil and gas is largely driving it. russia is increasingly isolated
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on the world stage, united states is looking at further sanctions. i think putin is in a very tough point. we have not actually changed the status quo in ukraine. russia has taken over another part of another country and we have accepted that. we are actively in a terrible military situation in eastern ukraine. i think you're right to be wear before declaring anything like that a definite victory for president obama. the same holds true in the middle east. you have to look at what is going on in syria and iraq and say like, we're in early innings here and it is very hard for a president to both act decisively as he did today, but also, there's very little control he has on the world stage. >> yeah. >> i think that is what makes today's event so striking because this was something
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within his ability to do, he wanted to do it for a long time, it came as a total surprise and is a traumatic decision that obama made. >> yeah, sam, i guess i take issue, not in any angry way. >> oh, good, whew. >> i wonder if you think if there's a republican in office in 2016 what he would reverse this. given what seems to be pretty broad acceptance with the exception of cruz and rubio and mendez that this is a good thing. there's also a human element that families will be able to see each other and communicate in ways they haven't before. it strikes similar cords as the immigration action. to separate families again will
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seem incalculable. >> yes it will be harder to undo it is than to do it. like with china do you want to be the president who blew up this historic agreement between the two countries, i'm not sure. we don't know what the circumstances be in two years time. certainly you can imagine a world the president of the united states feels he needs to play a more active, perhaps beliggerent roll and reverse these trends. but foreign world is fickle. we don't know what the next four months will even bring, so to declare this will be a brand new age of ub an relations, probably is the case but i'm just not 100% sure of it. >> it sounds like isis was sort of sprung among them and not a huge thought and strategy around
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what we're doing in certain parts of the middle east. this is something where we played the old tape of president obama ten years talking about normalizing relations with cuba. in that way it is a very striking contrast to what this administration is doing on foreign policy in the middle east. >> i think you're on to something for sure which is barack obama clearly has had a long held view. he wanted to make this decision out of political caution or whatever, he did not do to until now. he's the most liberated lame duck around and i think the last few weeks do suggest it is the mode he's in. it's a striking action. >> it's remarkable how this didn't leek at all considering the gravity of the new policy that no one knew until this morning. >> i totally agree with that.
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>> how has it happened. the climate agreement with china and iran pushing talks for seven months, how is it kept under wrap snz. >> in a way it is the flip side of the small famous inner circle of the white house. we have a new defense second and three previous pentagon chiefs haven't been able to crack the inner circle of the white house. so they're pretty good at keeping a message in a small group setting making big decisions. >> when the intrepid reporters and soothe sayers at the hufgt huffington post gather around with drinks is this what you talk about is on obama's bucket list. >> i was looking at his policies
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to see what has yet to be checked in. to be honest a lot of the stuff he wanted to do has been done. some things he's been completely restricted from doing, like comprehensive immigration reform, he has to do it through executive action. but in foreign policy he has raised the bar. not all of it has gone well. you could argue that his iraq policy he has had to readvise t revisit because it may have been done in too much haste. the pakistan thing looks difficult this year but he has charged a lot checksed a lot off his bucket list. >> thanks so much for your time. we're getting developing reports that sony has made plans to release the interview. get ready for some german engineered holiday excitement.
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>> we have breaking news on a story we brought you earlier. moments ago sony pictures entertainment announced it is cancelling it's christmas day release of its film "the interview" the move comes after the nation's five largest chains said they won't show the film in the wake of threats by cyber hackers. in a statement sony said this. we have planned not to move forward. we respect and understand our partner's decision and completely share their pouraramt interest in the safety of employees and theater goers. that's all for now. "the ed show" is up next. ♪ ♪ >> >> good evening americans and welcome to "the ed show." live from new york. this is change i can believe in. let's get to work.
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♪ ♪ >> i spoke with raul castro. >> in a historic shift in u.s. policy to cuba. >> reestablishment of diplomatic relations. >> this entire policy shift is based on an illusion. >> i'm under no illusion. >> put pressure on the regime. >> it is good for us but very bad for the united states. >> freedom is not free. >> i'm under no illusion. ♪ ♪ good to have you with us tonight folks. thanks for watching. isn't this freedom on the march. isn't this what we try to do all over the world? make things right for all people. tonight we start with historic news at the united states makes a big policy shift with cuba. earlier today cuban government released american contractor alan gross from prison. this was


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