Fidel Castro looks up at the Jefferson Memorial on April 16, 1959. The Cuban leader visited Washington several months after seizing power. But U.S.-Cuban relations quickly frayed, and the U.S. imposed an embargo of the island in 1961. AP hide caption

itoggle caption AP

Parallels - World News

The U.S. And Cuba: A Brief History Of A Complicated Relationship

The stalemate has outlasted 10 U.S. presidents, a failed invasion, a nuclear crisis and countless boatloads of Cuban asylum seekers. All that changed on Wednesday.

The Islamist group Hamas, shown here in a rally in the Gaza Strip on Dec. 12, is the strongest faction in the Gaza Strip. The Islamic State, or ISIS, is not believed to be in the territory, though flyers purporting to be from the group have circulated in Gaza. They are widely believed to be fake, but both Israel and Hamas have tried to use them to their advantage. Mahmud Hams/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Mahmud Hams/AFP/Getty Images

Parallels - World News

In Gaza, The Specter Of ISIS Proves Useful To Both Sides

The Islamic State is not believed to be in the Gaza Strip. But a flyer in its name was recently sent around the territory. Both Israel and Hamas are trying to use it to their advantage.

A customer picks up a block of butter at a food store in Tokyo on Nov. 10th. Japanese shoppers are up in arms over a serious butter shortage that has forced Tokyo to resort to emergency imports, as some grocers limit sales to one block per customer. Yoshikazu Tsuno/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Yoshikazu Tsuno/AFP/Getty Images

The Salt

Japan's Butter Shortage Whips Its Cake Makers Into A Frenzy

For the Japanese, Christmastime means sponge cake. But a nationwide butter shortage has lead to mandatory butter rationing, forcing cake bakers to seek out substitutes.

Clockwise from upper left: Spoon, Sharon Van Etten, St. Vincent, Future Islands, Flying Lotus. Courtesy of the artists hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of the artists

All Songs Considered

Poll Results: Listeners Pick Their Favorite Albums Of 2014

The results are in! St. Vincent's self-titled album was by far the most popular record in our listener poll for the best music of 2014. On this week's All Songs Considered, we count down the Top 25.

During World War II, Louis Zamperini spent 47 days stranded in shark-infested waters before he was rescued by Japanese soldiers and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp. Universal Pictures hide caption

itoggle caption Universal Pictures

Movie Interviews

Angelina Jolie On Her Film's 'Unbroken' Hero: 'He Was Truly A Great Man'

Louis Zamperini was an Olympian before he enlisted in World War II and became a prisoner of war. Jolie says he told her to "make a film that reminds people that they have greatness inside themselves."

Quvenzhane Wallis (second from right) stars in an updated version of Annie, produced by Jay-Z. Barry Wetcher/Sony Pictures Entertainment hide caption

itoggle caption Barry Wetcher/Sony Pictures Entertainment

Code Switch

An Updated 'Annie' And The Tradition Of Nontraditional Casting

As an African-American Annie arrives on movie screens, critic Bob Mondello looks at other cross-cultural reinventions, from Pearl Bailey's Dolly to the Americanization of "Carmen" as "Carmen Jones."

Dr. Mohammed Arif helps treat a wounded patient at a field hospital in Kobani, Syria. Most of the clinics in this besieged Syrian border town are now in ruins. Only one still stands, its location kept secret lest it be targeted. Jake Simkin/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Jake Simkin/AP

Goats and Soda

Medical Workers In Conflict Zones Have Never Faced Greater Risks

They've always been caught in crossfire, but now they are being singled out as targets. The worst violence is taking place in Syria.

Saudi Arabian women wear their traditional face covering, the niqab, at a coffee and chocolate exhibition in the capital Riyadh on Monday. A prominent religious figure said on Twitter that the face veil is not mandatory, sparking a heated national debate. Fayez Nureldine/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Fayez Nureldine/AFP/Getty Images

Parallels - World News

A Tweet On Women's Veils, Followed By Raging Debate In Saudi Arabia

A prominent ultra-conservative figure says that face veils for women are not mandatory. Now everyone is weighing in on the hottest topic in the kingdom.

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