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10 things to know for today, Dec. 18

By The Associated Press

Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today:

1. WHAT DROVE OBAMA’S DECISION ON NORMALIZING WITH CUBA

The president was driven in part by realizing that the policy toward Cuba was isolating the U.S. from the rest of the world.

2. JUBILATION IN HAVANA, MUTED REACTION IN MIAMI

Bells tolled and school children applauded on the island when they heard Raul Castro deliver the news. Outrage among Cuban-Americans in their Florida hub was understated, showing vast change in recent years.

3. HACKING COULD UNDERSCORE NORTH KOREA’S CAPABILITIES

In a country where most people have never used the internet, Pyongyang has amassed a small army of computer coders who may have unleashed an attack against Sony.

4. AP INVESTIGATION: HUNDREDS OF CHILD DEATHS COULD HAVE BEEN PREVENTED

Nearly 800 kids died of abuse or neglect in the U.S. even though protection agencies knew they were in danger.

5. WHO HAS FAITH IN THE RUBLE

Putin says Moscow has enough foreign reserves and expresses confidence that his country’s embattled currency will recover.

6. BOSTON MARATHON SUSPECT TO APPEAR IN COURT

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will make his first public appearance in a year and a half as he faces 30 federal charges.

7. MITCH MCCONNELL TAKES AIM AT OBAMA’S GREEN ‘CRUSADE’

The incoming Senate majority leader tells the AP that he’ll do everything he can to stop stricter limits on emissions from coal-burning power plants.

8. WHERE FRACKING WILL BE BANNED

The decision by New York state is cheered by environmentalists, while the industry and its supporters express outrage.

9. STUDY: ALCATRAZ INMATES COULD HAVE SURVIVED FAMED ESCAPE IN 1962

Dutch scientists, studying the tides and currents, conclude the three men might have made it to land.

10. WHICH ‘SMART’ PRODUCTS TO GIFT THIS HOLIDAY SEASON

A toothbrush with Bluetooth connectivity, a Mr. Coffee machine you can start remotely with your phone, and a scale that tracks your weight loss (or gain) are among this year’s best offerings.

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Local

Locals to be inducted into NC Military Veterans Hall of Fame

Business

Fall fun, with a twist: Patterson Farm adjusts to guidelines, offers new version of traditional events

Nation/World

Sayers, Piccolo friendship lives on in ‘Brian’s Song’

Education

Partners in learning passes last year’s special needs fashion show fundraiser with all-virtual event

Education

Shoutouts

Elections

Former history teacher to use ‘working knowledge of the issues’ in state House race

Business

Chamber adds more than 50 new businesses during Total Resource Campaign

Education

School board candidates for Salisbury seat split on consolidation

Education

Virtually no internet: Rural NC families struggle with online access for school-age children

Education

Horizons Unlimited taking learning to students this semester

Nation/World

NTSB: Pilot’s actions likely caused Earnhardt Jr. plane crash

Nation/World

2 Louisville officers shot amid Breonna Taylor protests

Coronavirus

Seven new COVID-19 positives reported at Piedmont Correctional

Crime

Blotter: Police respond to shots fired call outside of Salisbury home

Coronavirus

Rowan tied for fifth among counties for most COVID-19 deaths

Health

‘Nudge from God’: 10 years after diagnosis, Rockwell man to receive kidney from live donor

Crime

Salisbury police warn residents after increased trailer thefts

Education

Elon heightens alert as 32 test positive; Wake Forest in good shape to continue instruction as is

Cleveland

Corn picker catches fire at Knox Farm, destroying nearly eight acres

Nation/World

House easily passes stopgap funding bill, averting shutdown

News

Supreme Court vacancy looms large in 2nd NC Senate debate

Coronavirus

Additional COVID-19 death reported in Rowan; Cooper announces small business relief

Crime

Asheville man charged with heroin possession following traffic checkpoint

Education

Susan Cox conceding school board race, putting support behind opponent