U.S. contractor Alan Gross, held by theCuban government since 2009, was freed Wednesday as part of alandmark deal with Cuba that paves the way for a major overhaul in U.S. policy toward the island, senior administration officials tell CNN.
President Obama is expected to announce Gross' release at noon.
Gross' "humanitarian" release by Cuba was accompanied by a separate spy swap, the officials said. Cuba also freed a U.S. intelligence source who has been jailed in Cuba for more than 20 years, although authorities did not identify that person for security reasons. The U.S. released three Cuban intelligence agents convicted of espionage in 2001.
President Barack Obama is also set to announce a broad range of diplomatic and regulatory measures in what officials called the most sweeping change in U.S. policy toward Cuba since the 1961 embargo was imposed.
7:51amEST – The Taliban stormed a military-run school in northwest Pakistan on Tuesday, gunning down at least 126 people – most of them children – in one of the volatile Asian nation's deadliest attacks.
Hours after the attack, Pakistani troops were still exchanging gunfire with the militants inside the Army Public School and Degree College in the violence-plagued city of Peshawar, about 120 kilometers (75 miles) from the country's capital, Islamabad.
Two explosions were also heard.
By around 4 p.m. (6 a.m. ET), the Pakistani military had pushed the attackers back to four blocks of the school, military spokesman Gen. Asim BajwaI tweeted. BajwaI over an hour later said that six assailants had been killed.
It was unclear, by then, how many of the hundreds of students at the co-ed school – which is for children of army personnel and has a capacity of 1,000 – were still inside, not to mention how many more were dead or alive. More than 100 people were injured, ministers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province said.
"2 more children, 2 teachers rescued," BajwaI wrote around 5:15 a.m. "6th terrorist killed in last block. IEDs planted by terrorists hamper speed of clearance."
A gunman holding hostages in a Sydney cafe is said to be demanding an ISIS flag and a phone call with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
The reported demands emerged after five hostages managed to flee the building, leaving an unconfirmed number of people still trapped inside during a dramatic standoff that has now lasted more than 10 hours.
The gunman's requests were made through hostages who contacted several media organizations, CNN affiliate Sky News Australia reported. Police said they were aware of the reports but declined to confirm what demands had been made.
Amid the crisis, hundreds of police officers, some of them armed with sniper rifles, shut down a usually bustling area in Australia's most populous city.
"We are doing all we can to set you free," New South Wales Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said at a news conference Monday evening, directing his comments to the hostages and their loved ones.
This Congress is going out just the way it began: in complete disarray.
Fourteen months after tea party conservatives ignored Republican leaders and forced a two-week government shutdown, another one came close to happening - this time because liberals were blowing off President Barack Obama's pleas to support a government funding measure.
For weeks, legislative leaders insisted another shutdown wouldn't happen. And it didn't. But the House was just two hours away, and the Senate might not cast its final votes until this weekend.
Barack Obama may be the President of the United States, but for a few minutes on Monday, he was also Stephen Colbert, outgoing host of "The Colbert Report."
Obama sat down for an interview with Colbert in Washington - his third appearance on the show - and surprised the host by taking over the taping for a segment.
"You've been taking a lot of shots at my job, I've decided to take a shot at yours," Obama said before taking over for Colbert on "The Word," a segment where Colbert (in this case, Obama) says a line or two before a witty word or phrases flashes to the right. "How hard can this be? I am just going to say whatever you were about to say."
From there, Obama launched into a monologue about Obamacare, congressional Republicans and his last two years in office.
From the streets of California to the shopping malls of New York, protesters are making sure no one forgets the case of Eric Garner.
But some are choosing to do so more violently than others.
Demonstrators flooded a highway in Oakland, California, prompting a heated standoff in the freeway between protesters and California Highway Patrol.
Some threw explosives, bottles and rocks at officers, authorities said.
The family of Luke Somers, the American hostage being held in Yemen, have taken to the internet to ask for his release.
"Luke is only a photojournalist, and he is not responsible for any of the actions the U.S. government has taken," says Jordan Somers, Luke's brother.
Luke's mother Paula Somers goes on to ask for mercy, saying Luke "is all that we have."
When violence swallows a city as wholly as it has Kobani, as in so many of Syria's mottled cities, the fight becomes about who wins, rather than what is left for the victor.
Its streets have been so ground down to the bone, that the prize - so small but so intensely fought over - is now unrecognizable.
Every time you open your eyes in Kobani, you see the damage.
There are people still there, but it is hard to gauge how many. Food is scarce, as is fuel for heat. And day and night, indiscriminate, homemade mortars rain down on Kurdish homes - ISIS borrowing a technique, it seems, from the Syrian regime, and using domestic gas canisters and junk metal to kill or maim civilians.
New elections will likely be held on March 17, the speaker of Israel's parliament said Wednesday, a day after the Prime Minister sacked two senior members of his coalition Cabinetfor criticizing government policy.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also called for Parliament to be dissolved, with lawmakers expected to vote on that shortly.
Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein told reporters the party heads were informing their members of the proposed election date and that there would then be an official announcement.
Hong Kong's teenage protest leader Joshua Wong has begun a hunger strike with two members of his youth activist group Scholarism in his latest attempt to secure talks with the government to demand democracy.
"I know it is really harmful to my body, however it is the only way to give pressure to the government to get a meeting with us," Wong told CNN.
"If the government can have a proper meeting with Scholarism to discuss whether political reform will be launched immediately, we will stop the hunger strike."