Yesterday, the Obama administration announced that it will seek to restore diplomatic and economic ties with Cuba, news welcomed by humanitarian groups concerned over the conditions for dissidents in Cuba. The plan is off to a good start as 53 political prisoners were released yesterday as well as U.S. aid worker Alan Gross, who had been imprisoned for five years.

At least 786 children are said to have died of abuse or neglect in the U.S. in a six-year span while in plain view of child protection officials. Alabama had 10 deaths from fiscal 2009 through 2013.

Twenty-three-year-old Jeffrey Lauer, who was being treated at UAB Hospital for injuries sustained at the hands of a brother and sister, has died. Shane and Stevie Pardue, of McCalla have been charged with murder.

University of Alabama President Judy Bonner has announced plans to leave the presidency next year, saying she'd like to return to her first love, which is teaching.  Her replacement has yet to be determined.

Sony Pictures says it's canceled the Christmas Day release of the comedy movie "The Interview" and says it has no further release plans for the film. North Korea is being blamed for making terror threats against theaters carrying the movie and for hacking of private Sony emails and other information.

Dropping gasoline prices have been bringing down overall U.S. consumer prices. Gas costs plummeted 10.5 percent in November, and the core inflation registered 0.1.

The bond for Hiawatha Robinson, the 38-year-old man arrested Tuesday in the death of his 8-year-old daughter Hiawayi, has been set at $500,000. He must post bond of $250,000 on each charge of murder and sodomy before he can leave jail.

The graduation rate for Tuscaloosa City Schools has increased to its highest level in at least five years at 85 percent. According to our daily, the county school system also reports graduation rate improvements, jumping from 77 percent in 2012-2013 to 83 percent in 2013-2014.