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Obama, Castro, and the Pope find peace in Canada

Alan Gross embraces Tim Rieser (C, back to camera), a member of U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy's office, on the tarmac as he disembarks from a U.S. government plane with wife Judy (L) at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland outside Washington December 17, 2014 (Reuters/Jill Zuckman)The heat was turned up Wednesday when President Obama announced a new direction regarding Cuban policy. Unthawing the frozen relationship that started during the Cold War era, the president said he is cutting loose the shackles of the past and taking a new approach into the future. This new approach includes Cuba's immediate release of American Alan Gross and America's easing travel restrictions for US citizens, expansion of commercial sales and exports, and the possible opening of a U.S. Embassy in Havana.

The unthawing of relations caused a flood of responses in opposition. Florida Senator Marco Rubio called the move "another concession to tyranny" by the Obama administration. The possible Republican candidate for president in 2016 went on to say that the decision was "absurd and it's part of a long record of coddling dictators and tyrants." Believing the president to the "worst negotiator since Jimmy Carter," Rubio was joined in opposition by New Jersey Democratic Senator Robert Menendez, who claimed the move "vindicated the brutal behavior of the Cuban government."

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Torture, Jesus, and Tom Cruise

A prisoner at Guatanamo Bay prison is held up, propped up, carried along by two US Soldiers along a gravel path to a line of waiting US soldiers (Credit: US Department of Defense/Reuters/Shane T. McCoy) Over the years, Tom Cruise has taught us a number of lessons. In Risky Business, Cruise demonstrated to us the fun to be had in slipping and sliding across a wooden floor. He reminded us in Jerry Maguire that it is not all about the money, but it is important to show me the money. He taught us no mission is impossible, except if you appear on Oprah and proceed to jump up and down on a couch. Then it is impossible to regain credibility. But maybe the most interesting lesson he taught us was found in Minority Report. The movie revolves around this pivotal question:

Is it possible to predict future behavior based upon present circumstances? And if it is possible, is it right?

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Charlie Brown and Winston Churchill, 50 years later

 Charlie Brown standing beside his Christmas tree in A Charlie Brown Christmas, an animated musical television special based on the comic strip Peanuts (Credit: Charles M. Schulz) Charlie Brown turned 50 this December.  Or at least, his Christmas show did.

A Charlie Brown Christmas nearly didn't make it to the air in 1965.  CBS executives thought the plot was too slow and didn't like the jazz music sound track.  They allowed the show to air but said "it will probably be the first and last Charlie Brown show."  It turned out, half the country watched when the show aired on December 9, 1965.  It led to four feature films (a fifth is planned for November 2015) and 45 television specials.

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