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We start with a look at the details of today’s historic agreement between the U.S. and Cuba, restoring diplomatic relations after decades of alienation. Also, a look at the bizarre, Cold War-esque tactics used by the federal government agency USAID in Cuba, including a plot to infiltrate the country’s underground hip-hop scene. Then, an L.A. nightlife mogul struck out with his plan for a hotel-casino in Las Vegas, due to revelations about his past drug use and financial ties. Next up, why are toys today more gender-specific than they were 50 years ago? And what are parents trying to navigate holiday shopping to do? Finally, we look back at the year in hacks, from Sony to Home Depot to JP Morgan.

Banner Image: Ministry of the Interior building on the Plaza de la Revolución, Havana

A Historic U.S.-Cuba Agreement 9 MIN, 57 SEC

President Obama announced a historic agreement with Cuba today, thawing the longstanding diplomatic iceberg between the two countries. Under the deal the U.S. will open an embassy in Havana; ease travel, business and banking restrictions; and lift the cap on money sent back to the island from the U.S. And American contractor Alan Gross is coming home after spending five years in a Cuban prison. We go over the details.

Karen DeYoung, Washington Post (@karendeyoung1)

USAID’s Cold War Tactics in Cuba 6 MIN, 25 SEC

Alan Gross, the American contractor now freed from a Cuban prison, worked for the government agency USAID. We take a closer look at USAID’s work in Cuba, including a bizarre plot to infiltrate Cuba’s underground hip-hop scene that was recently revealed by the Associated Press.

Trish Wilson, international investigations editor for the Associated Press (@trishwbelli)

USAID op undermines Cuba's hip-hop protest scene

LA Nightclub Mogul Sam Nazarian Strikes Out in Vegas 7 MIN, 26 SEC

When Castro took over Cuba in 1959, the mafia left that country. They took their money and their casinos and headed for Las Vegas, their other home away from home. But Vegas isn’t run by the mob anymore. In fact, these days not even one of L.A.’s biggest nightclub owners is fit to run a casino. Sam Nazarian was planning a new 1,600-room SLS Las Vegas hotel and casino, but now it looks like he won’t pass muster with the Nevada Gaming Commission.

Howard Stutz, gaming reporter and columnist at the Las Vegas Review-Journal (@howardstutz)

Toys for Girls, Toys for Boys 8 MIN, 27 SEC

If you’re shopping for a child this holiday season, there is a good chance you are looking into toys. And you’re not alone, the Toy Industry Association estimates $22 billion in toys were sold last year. But even as society has grown more accepting of new gender roles, toy marketers have not. In fact, research suggests that toys are more divided by gender than they were 50 years ago. Why?

Elizabeth Sweet, professor of sociology at UC Davis (@elizabethvsweet)

Toys Are More Divided by Gender Now Than They Were 50 Years Ago

Activist Legos, and Other Parenting News 7 MIN, 15 SEC

Speaking of toys, the company behind Legos just announced that it’s reissuing one of its most popular toy lines. It’s called “The Research Institute.” It’s a laboratory scene, and all the figurines are women. The idea is to show girls that they, too, can grow up to be scientists. Is this a positive development? We discuss that and other parenting trends.

Stefanie Wilder Taylor, Co-Host of the parenting podcast “For Crying Out Loud” and author of the book “Naptime is the New Happy Hour.” (@swildertaylor)

Naptime Is the New Happy Hour

Stefanie Wilder-Taylor

Sony and the Year in Hacking 7 MIN, 48 SEC

The theatrical release of the film The Interview has been cancelled. That’s the Seth Rogen movie that seems to have motivated the massive Sony Studios hack. But Sony wasn’t the only big cyber crime target of 2014. Target, Home Depot, and JP Morgan also got hit. We take stock of the year in hacking.

Michael Riley, Bloomberg News (@rileybloomberg)

The Year of Hacking Dangerously

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