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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday he accepted the decision of the state Department of Environmental Conservation to ban high-volume hydraulic fracturing statewide as a result of a state health department review. (Associated Press)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo OKs fracking ban in New York state

- The Washington Times

New York on Wednesday announced it will become the second state to ban hydraulic fracturing, ending a five-year moratorium and handing a pivotal win to foes of the revolutionary oil-drilling technique while fueling outrage from proponents of job growth.

Anti-Castro protester Lazaro Lozano (left) argues with a pro-Obama supporter in the Little Havana area of Miami Wednesday in the wake of an Obama administration announcement that could mean a major shift in U.S. policy toward Cuba. (Associated Press)

Obama Cuba policy reversal ignites firestorm on Hill, excites U.S. businesses

- The Washington Times

Casting aside a half-century of foreign policy, President Obama on Wednesday said the U.S. will normalize ties with Cuba, open an embassy in Havana and reduce trade and travel barriers — a seismic shift in America’s relationship with the communist island that drew praise from businesses eager to tap into the Cuban market but touched off a bipartisan firestorm on Capitol Hill.

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen makes a statement on jobs and economic outlook, Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014, at the Federal Reserve in Washington. The U.S. economy is finally doing better, and the Federal Reserve may be ready to acknowledge that fact.   (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

Fed will be ‘patient’ about possible rate hike in 2015

- The Washington Times

Sending a subtle but clear signal of a change to come, the Federal Reserve Board ended a two-day meeting by holding U.S. interest rates steady and saying it will be “patient” about ending the easy-money stance it has adopted since the onset of the Great Recession.

Birds fly past at sun set as smoke emits from a chimney at a factory in Ahmadabad, India, Monday, Dec. 8, 2014. The momentum from a historic U.S.-China pact to resist global warming is showing signs of fading at the U.N. climate talks in Peru as the familiar rich-poor conflict persists over who should do what to keep the planet from overheating. The conference's high-level phase begins Tuesday. (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki)

Manufacturers association chief sees little hope for Obamacare relief

- The Washington Times

Resurgent U.S. manufacturers face headwinds from Obamacare’s mandates and taxes, but the law’s namesake has two more years in the White House and public benefits will be hard to reel back despite the recent midterm election results, National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons said.

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ADVANCE FOR USE THURSDAY, DEC. 18, 2014, AT 12:01 A.M. EST AND THEREAFTER- In this Nov. 13, 2014, photo, a small urn containing the ashes of Mattisyn Blaz is displayed on a bookshelf in front of a photo of the infant girl in the home of Jennifer Blaz, 34, in Butte, Mont. At least 760 children died of abuse or neglect in the U.S. in a six-year span in plain view of child protection authorities, The Associated Press has found, including the death of 2-month-old Mattisyn. (AP Photo/Lido Vizzutti)

AP IMPACT: Abused kids die as authorities fail to protect

- Associated Press

At least 786 children died of abuse or neglect in the U.S. in a six-year span in plain view of child protection authorities - many of them beaten, starved or left alone to drown while agencies had good reason to know they were in danger, The Associated Press has found.

ADVANCE FOR USE THURSDAY, DEC. 18, 2014, AT 12:01 A.M. EST AND THEREAFTER- In this Nov. 13, 2014, photo, a small urn containing the ashes of Mattisyn Blaz is displayed on a bookshelf in front of a photo of the infant girl in the home of Jennifer Blaz, 34, in Butte, Mont. At least 760 children died of abuse or neglect in the U.S. in a six-year span in plain view of child protection authorities, The Associated Press has found, including the death of 2-month-old Mattisyn. (AP Photo/Lido Vizzutti)

AP IMPACT: Abused kids die as officials fail to protect

- Associated Press

At least 786 children died of abuse or neglect in the U.S. in a six-year span in plain view of child protection authorities - many of them beaten, starved or left alone to drown while agencies had good reason to know they were in danger, The Associated Press has found.

Q&A: Drones might help show how tornados form

- Associated Press

Researchers say they've collected promising weather data by flying drones into big Western and Midwestern storms. Now they want to expand the project in hopes of learning how tornados form.

Restaurant owner Randy Resnick poses for a portrait Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014, in Rock Hill, N.Y. Three economically distressed communities in upstate New York have been selected as sites for casinos bringing an end to a fierce competition among developers and job-hungry communities. "This means rebirth. This means new life," said Resnick. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Catskills hang hopes of revival on new casino

- Associated Press

Residents of this faded corner of the New York's Catskills Mountains fist-pumped, cheered and hugged as they closed in on landing a casino. Finally.

Top Dem: House should vote on Senate gas tax hike

- Associated Press

A top Democrat says the Michigan House should vote on a Senate-approved plan that would significantly raise gasoline and diesel taxes to generate at least $1 billion for road repairs.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nev. walks to meet with fellow Democrats on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014. When the 114th Congress convenes in January, Reid and his party will be the minority.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

113th Congress ends with more fights than feats

- Associated Press

The tempestuous 113th Congress has limped out of Washington for the last time, capping two years of modest and infrequent legislating that was overshadowed by partisan clashes, gridlock and investigations.

Report: Portland jobs back, but incomes lag

- Associated Press

The Portland metropolitan region has regained the jobs lost during the recession, but household incomes remain below pre-recession levels, according to a report released Wednesday.

FILE - This Monday, May 14, 2012, file photo shows the Reid-Gardner power station near a farm on the Moapa Indian Reservation, in Moapa, Nev. Nevada utility regulators are considering a revised plan for a solar power generating facility that had been proposed for the Moapa River Paiute Indian Reservation as part of an NV Energy effort to retire coal-fired plants. The Moapa solar project was projected to generate up to 200 megawatts, and proponents say it'll be needed when NV Energy shuts down the nearby coal-fired Reid Gardner generating station by the end of 2017. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File)

Nevada regulators reject tribal solar plant again

- Associated Press

Nevada regulators on Wednesday refused a second request to waive competitive bids for utility company NV Energy to buy solar power from a proposed solar generation station on the Moapa River Paiute Indian Reservation outside Las Vegas.

News briefs from around Kentucky at 1:58 a.m. EST

Associated Press

Michael Lewis felt some anxiety when he stepped forward as one of Kentucky's first farmers to test the potential of hemp production, but some recent action by Congress has helped set his mind at ease.

FILE - In this Nov. 6, 2014 file photo, Wei Seng Phua walks into federal court in Las Vegas. Phua, his son Darren Wai Kit Phua, and four others were arrested in July after federal agents raided three high-roller villas at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Defense attorneys will ask U.S. Magistrate Judge Peggy Leen on Monday, Dec. 15, 2014, to throw out the evidence that was collected as the tainted result of an illegal FBI ruse. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

Testimony: No warrant for FBI ruse in Vegas case

- Associated Press

A Nevada casino regulator told a federal judge Wednesday that he and FBI agents briefed an assistant U.S. attorney but not a judge before posing as Internet repairmen to enter high-roller suites at Caesars Palace and collect evidence for a warrant in what they believed was an illegal online sports gambling operation.

News from around Wisconsin at 5:58 p.m. CST

Associated Press

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is suing the state to obtain records related to a decision not to enforce Wisconsin's contraceptive coverage law.

Michigan road funds deal in doubt this session

- Associated Press

Gov. Rick Snyder and legislative leaders failed Wednesday to negotiate a potential tax increase to improve Michigan's deteriorating roads, as chances of a $1.2 billion deal dwindled before lawmakers adjourn for the year.

Minnesota news in brief at 7:58 p.m. CST

Associated Press

Prosecutors have charged four people in what authorities call a "massive" fraud scheme in the Twin Cities involving public benefits.