Brooklyn cops shot

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Was NYPD cop killing payback?

The man who ambushed two officers allegedly said on social media that he was outraged over the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, and that he would kill police. FULL STORY


North Korea responds to Sony hack attack allegations



Castro: Cuba will remain communist, despite new deal with United StatesCastro: Cuba will remain communist, despite new deal with United States

HAVANA, Dec. 20 (UPI) — Speaking in front of the Cuban Parliament on Saturday, Cuban President Raúl Castro declared Cuba will remain communist.
U.S. sends 4 Guantanamo prisoners home to AfghanistanU.S. sends 4 Guantanamo prisoners home to Afghanistan

WASHINGTON, Dec. 20 (UPI) — The Pentagon announced Saturday that four Afghan prisoners being held at the Guantanamo Bay detention center were sent home.
North Korea proposes joint investigation with U.S. into Sony hackNorth Korea proposes joint investigation with U.S. into Sony hack

PYONGYANG, North Korea, Dec. 20 (UPI) — North Korean officials proposed holding a joint investigation with the United States into the unprecedented cyberattack on Sony Pictures.
Australian mother arrested in death of 8 childrenAustralian mother arrested in death of 8 children

MANOORA, Australia, Dec. 20 (UPI) — A 37-year-old Australian mother was arrested in the death of eight children — seven who are her own and one a niece. Some may have been stabbed to death.
Israel launches airstrike on Hamas target in GazaIsrael launches airstrike on Hamas target in Gaza

GAZA, Dec. 19 (UPI) — Israel launched an airstrike on a Hamas target Friday in retaliation to rocket fire from Gaza, the Israeli military said.
Australian mom arrested after eight children stabbed to deathAustralian mom arrested after eight children stabbed to death

MANOORA, Australia, Dec. 19 (UPI) — A female relative of eight children found stabbed to death in a suburb of Cairns, Australia, was arrested by police on suspicion of murder.
Australia boosts security ahead of Asian CupAustralia boosts security ahead of Asian Cup

SYDNEY, Dec. 19 (UPI) — The Asian Football Confederation has requested a review of security preparations ahead of next month’s Asian Cup.
Cuban art world readies to take on U.S. marketCuban art world readies to take on U.S. market

MIAMI, Dec. 19 (UPI) — U.S. art collectors are among those eagerly awaiting the effects of the normalization of relations between the United States and Cuba, announced this week.
Top doctor in Sierra Leone dies from Ebola infectionTop doctor in Sierra Leone dies from Ebola infection

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone, Dec. 19 (UPI) — Dr. Victor Willoughby, a senior medical doctor in Sierra Leone who contracted the Ebola virus last weekend, died Thursday.
Beijing court rules gay-conversion clinic treatments illegalBeijing court rules gay-conversion clinic treatments illegal

BEIJING, Dec. 19 (UPI) — A Beijing court set precedent Friday in ruling against a gay-conversion clinic, saying treatments by electroshock and hypnosis are illegal.
Egyptian jihadists thank U.S. for terror designationEgyptian jihadists thank U.S. for terror designation

WASHINGTON, Dec. 19 (UPI) — Salafist militant group Ajnad Misr was designated a “global terrorist” by the U.S. Department of State Thursday, a move the Egyptian extremist group applauded.
Bomb-laden car crashes into Spain's People's Party HQBomb-laden car crashes into Spain’s People’s Party HQ

MADRID, Dec. 19 (UPI) — An explosives-laden car crashed into the Madrid, Spain, headquarters of the ruling People’s Party early Friday, with no casualties.
Pope Francis hands out sleeping bags to homeless for birthdayPope Francis hands out sleeping bags to homeless for birthday

VATICAN CITY, Dec. 19 (UPI) — As per usual with his birthday tradition, Pope Francis gave to the homeless, donating 400 sleeping bags to the homeless in Rome.
Five killed in Ukraine fighting as peace talks falterFive killed in Ukraine fighting as peace talks falter

KIEV, Ukraine, Dec. 19 (UPI) — Five Ukrainian soldiers were killed this week after a relatively quiet period of ceasefire, bring pessimism to plans for peace talks with pro-Russian separatists.
Inside the secret world of North Korea cybercodersInside the secret world of North Korea cybercoders

PYONGYANG, North Korea, Dec. 19 (UPI) — As intrigue surrounding a massive hack on Sony Pictures intensifies, the focus is increasingly on North Korea and its secretive cyber hackers known as Unit 121.




NFL | December 21, 2014 8:38 am

Six teams — the Steelers, Giants, Rams, Bears, Saints and the Falcons — are spending above 13.5 percent of their adjusted cap space on quarterbacks and two, at best, might make it into the postseason.
NFL | December 21, 2014 8:01 am

Even before Johnny Manziel struggled mightily against the Bengals last week, the performance he put on in practice the week leading up to the Cincinnati game was very similar — and panic could set in even the rookie doesn’t start to show signs of improvement.
NFL | December 21, 2014 7:45 am

Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles has attracted league-wide attention and the Bears and Jets are among the franchise intrigued by him, sources said.
Fantasy Basketball | December 21, 2014 7:40 am

With NBA teams starting to make moves, should Fantasy owners follow suit? Our Chris Towers helps you make the right calls for Week 9 with his latest Trade Value Chart.
NFL | December 21, 2014 7:35 am

The Falcons, who have compiled a 9-21 record the last two seasons, are expected to part ways with coach Mike Smith. Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase and Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels could be top targets.
NCAA Football | December 21, 2014 7:22 am

While Michigan continues its pursuit of Jim Harbaugh, other NFL coaches are on the school’s radar, including John Harbaugh, Sean Payton, Doug Marrone and Jason Garrett.
NFL | December 21, 2014 7:09 am

While Bears head coach Marc Trestman is all but certain of being fired next week, quarterback Jay Cutler — and his hefty contract — is expected back in Chicago.
NCAA Football | December 21, 2014 1:28 am

The first Camellia Bowl provided the most exciting game of the day as Bowling Green beat South Alabama 33-28.
NFL | December 21, 2014 1:05 am

The Chargers came back from down 21 points at halftime to continue San Francisco’s epic collapse.
NFL | December 20, 2014 11:18 pm

Kaep had the second-longest run by a quarterback in NFL history.
NBA | December 20, 2014 11:18 pm

Rajon Rondo made his debut and the Spurs and Blazers tried to rally from a triple overtime game the previous night. We rate it all.
NHL | December 20, 2014 10:33 pm

The Calgary Flames added one to the blooper reel on Saturday night, scoring into their own goal on a delayed penalty call.
NCAA Football | December 20, 2014 9:18 pm

Air Force won 10 games for the first time under Troy Calhoun after beating Western Michigan in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
NFL | December 20, 2014 9:18 pm

Nine takeawayas from Washington’s 27-24 win over the Eagles on Saturday night.
NHL | December 20, 2014 9:15 pm

Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin busted out of his mini goal-scoring slump on Saturday with a spectacular goal against the New Jersey Devils.
NFL | December 20, 2014 9:07 pm

Frank Gore ran over two defenders and stiff-armed another on the way to a 52-yard touchdown against the Chargers on Saturday.
NBA | December 20, 2014 9:01 pm

Rajon Rondo made his debut with the Dallas Mavericks Saturday night and got a couple of assists in his first stint on the floor.
NFL | December 20, 2014 8:32 pm

A-Rod posed for a quick picture with restauranteur Michael Mina.
NFL | December 20, 2014 8:29 pm

You’ve come to the right place for team-by-team grades from every NFL game played in Week 16.
NCAA Football | December 20, 2014 8:26 pm

Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen brought back the Uncle Eddie Christmas Vacation references with his holiday sweater for a staff party.


Barack Obama is pictured. | Getty




updated 3 hours, 55 minutes ago

Staples hack exposes 1.2 million credit cards

After a two-month wait, Staples on Friday evening announced hackers broke into its computers and stole data on 1.16 million shoppers’ credit cards and debit cards.FULL STORY

Jose PaglieryFiled under: Tech Biz
updated 21 hours, 50 minutes ago

Study: Hack attack aimed at ISIS’ opposition

North Korea, with its previous technologically laggard image, may have just shocked the world with some alleged hacking savvy, but when ISIS comes to mind, so does the terrorists’ digital bent. FULL STORY

By Ben Brumfield, CNNFiled under: Innovation
updated 1 day ago

Obama calls James Franco ‘James Flacco’

While talking about the Sony hack during his end-of-year press conference, President Obama called actor James Franco “James Flacco.” FULL STORY

Jose PaglieryFiled under: Tech Biz
updated 1 day ago

Google sues to stop Hollywood threats

Major Hollywood studios have led a quiet campaign with Mississippi’s attorney general to slam Google with lawsuits for linking to illegal content. Now Google is striking back.FULL STORY

Jose PaglieryFiled under: Tech Biz
updated 1 day ago

Why North Korea’s attack should leave every company scared stiff

Watch your back, Corporate America, or you could become the next Sony. FULL STORY

Jose PaglieryFiled under: Tech Biz
updated 1 day ago

It’s time for disruptive tech firms to grow up

As the adage goes, there is no such thing as bad publicity.FULL STORY

Nina dos SantosFiled under: Tech Biz
updated 1 day ago

Twitter chat as it happened: “Is Bitcoin over?”

By Jacopo Prisco, for CNNFiled under: Social Media
updated 1 day ago

Friday Links

Andrew BergmannFiled under: Tech Biz
updated 1 day ago

‘Digital nose’ on a chip can sniff out diseases

It’s long been known that dogs and cats, with their highly developed sense of smell, can be trained to identify the volatile chemicals released by human illnesses.FULL STORY

By Peter Shadbolt, for CNNFiled under: Innovation
updated 1 day ago

The heart of the Internet has been hacked

The all-powerful but little-known organization that administers all global website domain names has been hacked. FULL STORY

Alanna PetroffFiled under: Tech Biz
updated 1 day ago

Justin Bieber just lost 3.5 million Instagram followers

Justin Bieber has been left behind by the Instagram Rapture. FULL STORY

Aaron SmithFiled under: Tech Biz
updated 2 days ago

Uber agrees to temporarily suspend service in Portland

Uber is standing down for the next three months in Portland, just one of the cities where it has run into trouble.FULL STORY

Katie LoboscoFiled under: Tech Biz
updated 2 days ago

Activists plan to drop ‘Interview’ DVDs in North Korea

Sony pulled its controversial film “The Interview” after public threats, but one activist group hopes it can drop copies of the film into North Korea from the sky. FULL STORY

Laurie SegallFiled under: Tech Biz
updated 2 days ago

The future of Bitcoin: live Twitter chat today

Today, Thursday December 18, we’re hosting a Twitter live chat @CNNTech debating the future of Bitcoin with a panel of experts. Join us at 5pm GMT/12pm ET by tuning into the hashtag #bitcoinfuture. We look forward to seeing you there! FULL STORY

By Charlotte Lytton, for CNNFiled under: Social Media
updated 2 days ago

Reddit cofounder: The next Google is one visa away from leaving U.S.

Antiquated visa policies could be the downfall of the U.S. tech boom. That’s the warning that Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian is sounding. FULL STORY

The Lewis Glacier on Mount Kenya, with Curling Pond at the bottom left. The line of flames, made by a torch carried by the photographer during a long exposure, shows the glacier’s reach in 1934.
Simon Norfolk/Institute, for The New York Times

The Lewis Glacier on Mount Kenya, with Curling Pond at the bottom left. The line of flames, made by a torch carried by the photographer during a long exposure, shows the glacier’s reach in 1934.

With camera and torch in hand, the British photographer Simon Norfolk casts climate change’s inexorable advance in a new light.

Rabbi Daniel Zemel after a Sukkot service in October 2014 at Temple Micah in Washington.
Jonno Rattman for The New York Times

Rabbi Daniel Zemel after a Sukkot service in October 2014 at Temple Micah in Washington.

With Israel turning rightward and U.S. politicians following, what’s a left-leaning American Jewish voter to do?

Erik Madigan Heck for The New York Times

Racked for years by a mysterious illness, the author of “Seabiscuit” and “Unbroken” has defied the odds to write indelible works of history.

Illustration by Matt Dorfman. Photographs by Getty Images.

The inside story of how Yahoo’s C.E.O. lost her way.


Praying for Common Ground at the Christmas-Dinner Table

A born-again Christian, a practicing Muslim and a militant atheist walk into a dining room.


A Boy Named Dana

Applicant ambiguity; bidding peace; window undressing.


Off Target on Toy-Gun Regulation

Why you can’t blame realistic fake weapons for Tamir Rice’s death.

Jane Pratt

Jane Pratt on Why Writing for Young Women Never Gets Old

The women’s-magazine editor on the Internet, feminism and reading the comments.

Huîtres rôties au beurre de tomate.

In the Beginning

Hors d’oeuvres that prepare the palate for the great work to come.


Reply All: The 12.7.14 Issue

Readers respond.


Craig Venter’s Bugs Might Save the World

Wil S. Hylton’s 2012 article about biological machinery.

  • E-MAIL


Fire & Ice: Mount Kenya’s Lost Glaciers

Simon Norfolk, a British photographer, traveled to Africa to document the disappearance of Mount Kenya’s glaciers, plotting previous boundaries with fire in long-exposure photographs.

  • Fire & Ice: Mount Kenya’s Lost Glaciers

  • 9 Kisses: The Full Cast

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  • Animating Owen

  • A Tour of the Center of the World

  • Lessons From a Master Cat Photographer

  • The Scramble: A Simple Greek Lunch

  • The Rollout: An Ikarian Greens Pie

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  • For Seamus

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  • A Record Store Rises

  • Making a Scene: 11 Performances

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  • Marcella Cooks

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  • An Illustrated Talk With Maurice Sendak

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  • TimesCast Tech | Tumblr’s David Karp

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  • Why the Debt Deal Failed

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Mr. Kadhim, an Iraqi soldier and a Shiite, survived a massacre by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
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Howard Lutnick had to rebuild Cantor Fitzgerald after losing nearly 700 people on Sept. 11, 2001, beginning with a search for the passwords only they knew.
The Secret Life of Passwords

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Old Masters at the Top of Their Game

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Tiago Bueno Young, 3 years old, São Paulo, Brazil.
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1975, New Canaan, Conn.
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The Dong Dianhu Manor housing development west of Shanghai.
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Lindsey Danilack, center, class of 2014, the brigade commander for the entire student body, looking over cadets in lunch formation outside the mess hall.
The Women of West Point

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Two uniformed NYPD officers were shot dead Saturday afternoon as they sat in their marked police car on a Brooklyn street corner — in what investigators believe was a crazed gunman’s ­assassination-style mission to avenge Eric Garner and Michael Brown.  “It’s an execution,” one law-enforcement source said of the 3 p.m. shooting of police officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos. The tragic heroes were working overtime as part of an anti-terrorism drill in Bedford-Stuyvesant when they were shot point-blank in the head by the lone gunman, identified by sources as Ismaaiyl Brinsley, 28, who had addresses in Georgia and Brooklyn. Moments after killing the two officers, he too was dead, having turned the gun on himself on a nearby subway platform as cops closed in. “I’m Putting Wings on Pigs Today,” a person believed to be the gunman wrote on Instagram in a message posted just three hours before the officers were shot. “They Take 1 Of Ours…Let’s Take 2 of Theirs,” the post continued, signing off with, “This May Be My Final Post.”

The Instagram page included an image of a silver automatic handgun with a wooden handle. Another image showed the same camouflage pants and distinctive blue sneakers worn by the gunman as his body was carried from the scene on a stretcher. He used the hashtag #ShootThePolice, along with two other hashtags referencing Garner and Brown. Brinsley walked up to the cops’ patrol car at the corner of Myrtle and Tompkins avenues, approaching from the sidewalk. Witnesses told police that Brins­ley wordlessly blasted into the patrol car’s front passenger-side window. Then he stood stock still for a few moments, fleeing into the subway only when he heard the sirens of a second police car. Once in the subway, “they engaged the guy and he did himself,” one investigator said.

Brinsley was a fugitive who had just murdered his girlfriend in Baltimore Saturday morning, sources told The Post. The two officers were pronounced dead at Woodhull Hospital, where their colleagues and family members huddled tearfully. City Council President Melissa Mark-Viverito and Mayor Bill de Blasio were less than welcome guests at the poignant gathering. “We’re all in this together,” the mayor told grieving cops, according to a cop who was there. “No we’re not,” one officer said tersely in response. Just last week cops began signing a “Don’t Insult My Sacrifice” waiver, distributed by the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, that warned the mayor and speaker to stay away from funerals of cops killed in the line of duty.

Lieutenants Benevolent Association President Lou Turco, like many cops, likened the murders to the 1988 assassination of Police Officer Eddie Byrne. The 22-year-old rookie cop was alone in a squad car in Jamaica, Queens, guarding the home of a witness in a drug case, when he was shot in the head five times. The hit was ordered by jailed drug kingpin “Pappy” Mason, in retaliation for his arrest. “I don’t even know how to respond to this,” Turco said. “Twenty-eight years on and I don’t know what to say.” Another cop, who is black, said he fears that “this is just the beginning. “There are people out there who will want to be copycats. The tension out there is the worst I’ve ever seen it.” Both shooting locations — above and below ground — were scenes of blood and terror. “I heard shooting, — four or five shots,” ear-witness Derrick McKie, 49, told The Post of the cops’ tragic murder. “It sounded like from a single gun,” he said. Ambulances and police cars — at least one located only a block away — rushed to the scene, he said. “I seen them putting the cop in the ambulance. He looked messed up,” McKie, a barber, added. “He took a high caliber weapon to the face. He was lifeless…I couldn’t see where the holes was that, all I could see was blood. His body was lifeless.”

Brooklyn cops shot

Singer and songwriter Uriel Winfree III rushed to his roof when he heard the gunshots nearby. “There was a cop on the ground everyone was around him,” he recalled. “They were doing CPR on the cop, then they loaded him in the ambulance and they are hauling ass. Everyone was hauling ass.” Carmen Jimenez, 32, a social worker from Bed-Stuy, was on the platform when the gunman ran inside, pursued by officers. “Everything happened so quick,” said Jimenez, who is eight months pregnant. “We were standing waiting for the G train. We heard arguing from the other end of the platform. “It looked like two cops came in there was lots of yelling and they said, ‘Everybody get down.’ “We tried to get out of there, and there was a lot of shouting, people were screaming, people were trying to run. “I threw myself on the floor. I was afraid for my life and afraid for my baby.”

Brinsley has a criminal record dating back to at least 2006, when he was arrested in Georgia for carrying a concealed weapon, a knife, as well as shoplifting, according to online records. The next year he was arrested in Dekalb County., Ga., for criminal trespass, and by 2009, he was indicted in Ohio for robbery — a charge that was later apparently dismissed. In 2011, the shooter was arrested again in Georgia for reckless conduct, tampering with evidence, criminal property damage, and discharging his weapon. The outcome of the case is unknown. “My deepest thoughts and prayers are with the families of the police officers killed in the line of duty today, Public Advocate Letitia James said in a statement. “Today, the entire city mourns with the NYPD.”


article-perp2-1220“I’m Putting Wings On Pigs Today. They Take 1 Of Ours…Let’s Take 2 of Theirs,” Brinsley wrote on Instagram alongside a photo of a silver handgun.

Two NYPD officers were executed today as they sat in their patrol car in Brooklyn. A gang member from Baltimore drove to the city to kill police officers after wounding his girlfriend, sources told CBS New York. The shooter, identified as Ismaaiyl Brinsley, boasted about wanting to kill cops in the hours before he ambushed the officers outside the Tompkins Houses in Bedford-Stuyvesant about 3 p.m. Saturday.  “I’m Putting Wings On Pigs Today. They Take 1 Of Ours…Let’s Take 2 of Theirs,” Brinsley wrote on Instagram alongside a photo of a silver handgun. Brinsley made good on his promise, firing several rounds into the patrol car parked near Myrtle and Tompkins Aves., witnesses said. “The perp came out of the houses, walked up behind the car and lit them up,” a high-ranking police official told the Daily News.

Brinsley then sprinted around the corner to the Myrtle-Willoughby Aves. subway station where he shot himself in the head, police said. He was later pronounced dead. Both officers were rushed to Woodhull Hospital but were later pronounced dead.  Witnesses said the officers never had a chance. “He just walked up and shot that cop in the head,” one man said. Rescuers rushed to the aid of the mortally wounded officers.  “They basically dragged two cops out their car,” a second witness said. “I saw it. One was shot in the face. There was blood coming out of his face.” Details of the shooting outside Baltimore were scarce. A family member of the victim told the Daily News Brinsley shot her in the stomach. She was expected to survive. Earlier Saturday, Brinsley posted a menacing message on Facebook. “I Always Wanted To Be Known For Doing Something Right…But My Past Is Stalking Me and My Present Is Haunting Me.”



Cuban President Raul Castro has hailed a recent US move to normalize bilateral relations, but stressed that Havana will not change its political system. He also warned that Cuba faced a “long and difficult struggle” before the US removed its economic embargo. On Wednesday, President Barack Obama announced a “new chapter” in US ties with communist-run Cuba. He said the changes were the “most significant” in US policy towards Cuba in 50 years. US-Cuba relations have remained frozen since the early 1960s, when the US broke off diplomatic relations and imposed a trade embargo after Cuba’s revolution.

At the scene: Will Grant, BBC News, Havana

It was a speech heavy on symbolism. Among others, in the audience were the reunited Cuban 5 – the group of Cuban intelligence officers freshly-released from jail for spying in the US in exchange for the USAID contractor imprisoned in Cuba, Alan Gross. Elian Gonzalez – the young boy who was at the centre of an epic legal tussle between the US and Cuba during the Clinton administration and who is now a 21-year-old graduate of the military academy – was there, too. Amid sustained applause, President Raul Castro tried to keep Cubans’ feet firmly on the ground. After all, Cuba’s key demand – the complete lifting of the US economic embargo – is still to be met.

Nevertheless he praised President Barack Obama for his bravery in trying to reverse decades of hostilities between the two countries and confirmed that he would attend the summit of the Americas in Panama in April. That potentially paves the way for a face-to-face meeting with the US president – an almost unimaginable prospect a year ago. As President Castro drew parliament to a close for 2014, it is no exaggeration to say it will be remembered as one of the most historic years in the history of the Cuban Revolution.

Speaking in the National Assembly in Havana, President Castro said this week’s announcement by Mr Obama removed an “obstacle” in bilateral relations. Mr Castro said he was open to discussing a wide range of issues with Washington, but stressed that Cuba would not give up its socialist principles. “In the same way that we have never demanded that the United States change its political system, we will demand respect for ours.” Mr Castro added that Cuba had to go through a “long and difficult struggle” before the decades-old US economic embargo would be lifted.

Announcing the normalisation of diplomatic and economic ties, President Obama said Washington’s approach towards Cuba was “outdated”. As part of the deal, US contractor Alan Gross and an unnamed intelligence officer loyal to the US were released from Cuban prison in return for three Cubans held in the US. Mr Obama also said he wanted to reopen a US embassy in Havana in the coming months.


The plans set out in a White House statement also include:

  • Reviewing the designation of Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism
  • Easing a travel ban for US citizens
  • Easing financial restrictions
  • Increasing telecommunications links
  • Efforts to lift the 54-year-old trade embargo

However, some critics in Congress later threatened to block normalizing ties.

Grey line

Key dates

1959: Fidel Castro and his guerrilla army defeat the US-backed Cuban regime of Fulgencio Batista

1960-1961: Cuba nationalises US businesses without compensation; US breaks off diplomatic relations and imposes a trade embargo in response

1961: Failed Bay of Pigs invasion by CIA-backed Cuban exiles

1962: Soviet Union deploys ballistic missiles to Cuba, prompting Cuban Missile Crisis

2001: Five Cubans, dubbed the Cuban Five, are jailed in Miami for spying

2008: Raul Castro becomes Cuban president

2009: US citizen Alan Gross detained in Cuba accused of spying

Dec 2013: US President Barack Obama and Raul Castro shake hands at Nelson Mandela’s funeral – the first such public gesture since 1959

17 December 2014: Alan Gross is released by Cuba



Most North Koreans have never 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.  Like most of the internal workings of the country, not much is known but small pieces of information have come out over the years, often through defectors and intelligence leaks.

Here’s a summary of what we know:

The Cyberunits

North Korea’s governing structure is split between the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) and the National Defense Commission (NDC). North Korea’s main cyberoperations run under the Reconnaissance General Bureau (RGB), which itself falls under the Ministry of People’s Armed Forces that is in turn part of the NDC. The RGB has been operational for years in traditional espionage and clandestine operations and formed two cyberdivisions several years ago called Unit 121 and Office 91. Office 91 is thought to be the headquarters of North Korea’s hacking operation although the bulk of the hackers and hacking and infiltration into networks is done from Unit 121, which operates out of North Korea and has satellite offices overseas, particularly in Chinese cities that are near the North Korean border. One such outpost is reportedly the Chilbosan Hotel in Shenyang, a major city about 150 miles from the border. A third operation, called Lab 110, participates in much the same work.

There are also several cyberunits under North Korea’s other arm of government, the Workers’ Party of Korea. Unit 35 is responsible for training cyberagents and is understood to handle domestic cyberinvestigations and operations. Unit 204 takes part in online espionage and psychological warfare and Office 225 trains agents for missions in South Korea that can sometimes have a cyber component.


The North Korean school system emphasis the importance of mathematics to students from a young age. The most gifted are given access to computers where they can begin practicing programming skills and, if they are good enough, go on to one of a handful of schools that have specialist computer departments. These are typically Kim Il Sung University, the country’s most prestigious seat of learning, Kim Chaek University of Technology or Mirim College. Much less is known about the latter, although it’s believed to be a specialist cyberwarfare school. The students learn general programming techniques and will also specialize in disciplines such as cyberwarfare. After graduating, they will sometimes be sent to study overseas. That’s when, with an open Internet connection and the anonymity of a foreign network, they can start participating in hacker forums, developing malicious software and testing out their skills.

Over the past few years, it’s estimated the schools have turned out several thousand students (estimates range from around 2,000 to around 6,000), who now make up North Korea’s cyberforces.


International Network

North Korea has a single connection to the Internet, so attacks from inside the country would be quite easy to trace. As a result, the country uses computers around the globe to launch attacks. Often these are compromised PCs and the owners have no idea they’ve been infected with North Korean malware. Some of the initial attacks to help build this network of infected computers are thought to be launched from North Korean outpost offices in places like China, Russia and India.

Operations and attacks

While pinning down the true perpetrator of cyberattacks is incredibly difficult, a number of attacks in recent years have been blamed on North Korea. Some, like the Sony hack, have been high-profile but many others have gotten much less attention and appear more aimed at earning money than causing disruption.

July 2009 – Attackers target government websites in the U.S. and South Korea in large-scale distributed denial of service (DDOS) attacks that were later blamed on North Korea.

March 2011 – In an attack dubbed “10 Days of Rain,” major South Korean government websites and sites operated by the U.S. military in South Korea are targeted in DDOS attacks.

April 2011 – South Korea’s Nonghyup bank is targeted in a DDOS attack that was later traced to North Korea and linked with previous attacks.

August 2011 – South Korean police accuse a North Korean hacking ring of stealing around $6 million in prize money from online games.

November 2011 – A hacker attempts to hack the email system of Korea University’s Graduate School of Information Security in an action later blamed on North Korea.

June 2012 – Conservative South Korean newspaper Joong Ang Ilbo is hit by a cyberattack that succeeded in destroying databases. A week earlier, North Korea had threatened the newspaper over its coverage of the country.

March 2013 – A major cyberattack, later blamed on North Korea, paralyzes the networks of several major South Korean TV broadcasters. A bank ATM network is also hit in the attack, which attempted to wipe the hard drives of computers. A second attack pushes the DNS servers of government websites offline for several hours. At around the same time, North Korea’s connection with the global Internet goes down for 36 hours.

March 2013 – Responding to the attacks, the hacking group Anonymous targets North Korean websites. It succeeds in breaking into a major North Korean news portal and publishes the names and account details of thousands of subscribers.

June 2013 – Hackers post names, social security numbers and other personal information of thousands of U.S. armed forces members stationed in South Korea online.

June 2013 – South Korean government DNS servers are targeted by a DDOS attack. Similarities are found in the code that links it to the March attacks.

December 2013 – South Korean police say North Korean agents are behind a spear-fishing attack on the computer of a prominent defector.

November 2014 – South Korea’s spy agency said North Korean hackers had planted malware in around 20,000 smartphones.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un delivers a New Year address in Pyongyang

South Korea’s former spy chief and a North Korean defector put the number of professional hackers at between 1,000 and 3,000. These numbers from Seoul’s intelligence agency in 2010 and a leaked North Korean government document from 2009, which contained an order from late leader Kim Jong Il, might be outdated. But they agree that North Korea trains hackers at top schools to launch attacks on cyberspace mostly targeted at South Korea. Defector Kim Heung Kwang said he trained student hackers at a university in the industrial North Korean city of Hamhung for two decades before defecting in 2003. Hackers also are sent to study in China and Russia.

In 2009, then-leader Kim Jong Il ordered Pyongyang’s “cyber command” expanded to 3,000 hackers, Kim said, citing a North Korean government document that he obtained that year. The veracity of the document could not be independently confirmed. Kim, who has lived in Seoul since 2004, believes that more have been recruited since then and said some are based in China to infiltrate networks abroad. Simon Choi, a senior security researcher at Seoul-based anti-virus company Hauri Inc., said North Korean hackers have honed their skills from various attacks in South Korea. Choi, who analyzes malicious codes from North Korea, said the country’s skills have improved and it is able to disguise malware as harmless computer code. The perception of growing cyber security threats from North Korea has prompted South Korea’s defense ministry to beef up its cyberwarfare capabilities.