TPM News

President Barack Obama can thank outgoing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) for triggering the "nuclear option" in November 2013 and securing him one of the most robust judicial legacies of any modern president.

In six years, he has appointed a whopping 307 judges, who will shape the law for decades after he leaves office. The final 12 district judges were confirmed in the closing night of the Senate session on Tuesday, Reid's final move before Democrats surrender control of the chamber.

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Yesterday morning, American U.S. aid worker Alan Gross, in prison for five years on charges of covert action against the Cuban government, was released after months of negotiations. In addition, the U.S. traded three jailed Cuban spies for another of our jailed intelligence assets. And the news grew bigger: At noon, Presidents Obama and Raúl Castro gave concurrent speeches. President Obama told the nation that his administration was taking the first steps toward normalizing relations with Cuba—establishing embassies and ambassadors; re-assessing Cuba’s position on the list of state sponsors of terrorism; increasing travel, commerce, and the flow of information between the two countries. President Castro told his country that the economic embargo should stop, and that President Obama deserves respect for taking the first step towards healthier relations between the two nations.

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