TIME White House

President Obama Confuses James Franco, Joe Flacco in Speech

U.S. President Barack Obama during a news conference at the White House in Washington, D.C. on Dec. 19, 2014.
U.S. President Barack Obama during a news conference at the White House in Washington, D.C. on Dec. 19, 2014. Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

The confusion creates a parody Twitter account @JamesFlacco

President Obama addressed the nation Friday regarding Sony’s decision to cancel the release of The Interview following repeated cyber-attacks on the studio, but when he spoke about the film’s stars he accidentally conflated James Franco and Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco into “James Flacco.”

Only moments after the slip up occurred someone had already snatched up the Twitter handle James Flacco and started a parody account.

The slip of the tongue was so talked about that even the Ravens quarterback got in on the fun, tweeting a quick correction to the President, and reaching out to Franco.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

TIME White House

Barack Obama Holds First Ever All-Women Press Conference

President Barack Obama speaks during his speech to members of the media during his last news conference of the year in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House on Dec. 19, 2014 in Washington.
President Barack Obama speaks during his speech to members of the media during his last news conference of the year in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House on Dec. 19, 2014 in Washington. Alex Wong—Getty Images

The President made a statement without his actions

President Barack Obama’s traditional end-of-year press conference Friday was historic for reasons that had nothing to do with the substance of the president’s comments. All eight of the reporters who questioned Obama were women—and nearly all were print reporters—an apparent first for a formal White House news conference, a venue traditionally dominated by male television correspondents.

“The fact is, there are many women from a variety of news organizations who day-in and day-out do the hard work of covering the President of the United States,” said White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, after the event. “As the questioner list started to come together, we realized that we had a unique opportunity to highlight that fact at the President’s closely watched, end of the year news conference.”

The departure was noticed throughout the room, as Obama passed over male reporters in the front row and called on their female colleagues. “This seems unprecedented for a solo White House press conference,” said Towson University Presidency Scholar Martha Joynt Kumar, who tracks interactions between the president and the press corps, noting she does not recall a similar occasion in any previous administration. “It certainly is for Obama.”

The list of those called on:

  • Carrie Budoff Brown, Politico
  • Cheryl Bolen, Bloomberg BNA
  • Julie Pace, Associated Press
  • Lesley Clark, McClatchy
  • Roberta Rampton, Reuters
  • Colleen M. Nelson, Wall Street Journal
  • Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post
  • April Ryan, American Urban Radio

Before the George H.W. Bush White House, it would have been hard to find eight women to ask questions of the president, as there weren’t that many on the beat. Kumar noted that 10 women out of 21 reporters in the first three rows of the briefing room were women, the latest indication that the White House press corps is growing more diverse.

The White House informed the television networks they were unlikely to get questions at the new conference because each had asked the president questions at least twice since the midterm elections.

“It’s amazing for that to happen as that room is filled with a majority men,” said Ryan, who shouted out a question to the president and was acknowledged over questions shouted by male reporters. “I’ve been in one other historic press conference and got a question in the East Room and he called on a number of black reporters and it was amazing to be there. it was saying that maybe this room and this building is trying to reflect society and reflect America.”

In that press conference, on Sept 10, 2010, Obama called on four black reporters out of 12 questioners.

TIME White House

Obama Looks to the ‘4th Quarter’ of His Presidency

President Barack Obama speaks during his speech to members of the media during his last news conference of the year in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House on Dec. 19, 2014 in Washington.
President Barack Obama speaks during his speech to members of the media during his last news conference of the year in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House on Dec. 19, 2014 in Washington. Alex Wong—Getty Images

“Interesting things happen in the fourth quarter,” Obama said

At the end of a grim year that saw his approval ratings sink, his party pummeled in elections and his legislative agenda stymied by opponents, President Barack Obama made an impassioned argument Friday that the nation has emerged stronger than ever from economic upheaval and an unending sequence of foreign crises.

It was a rare glimpse of vintage Obama, the upbeat change-agent from his campaign days, who has all but vanished after six tough years of turmoil. In his ceremonial year-end news conference, Obama was buoyant, bantering with the press corps, mocking North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for the rogue nation’s response to a Seth Rogen movie, and rattling off statistics about the positive steps his administration has taken. And he served notice that as he approaches the final lap of his presidency, he isn’t finished putting his stamp on the nation.

“Interesting things happen in the fourth quarter,” the sports-loving president said with a grin.

Read more: Obama says Sony ‘made a mistake’ in pulling The Interview

Obama’s remarks came after a six-week stretch in which he sidestepped Congress to issue a series of major executive actions and foreign policy pronouncements, including a unilateral overhaul of U.S. immigration law in November and this week’s announcement that the U.S. will begin to normalize relations with Cuba after a half-century of conflict.

“This is still a repressive regime,” Obama said of the Cuban leaders, “but I know deep in my bones that if you’ve done the same thing for 50 years and nothing has changed, you should try something different.” Recounting his historic phone conversation this week with Cuban President Raul Castro, Obama joked that he apologized to Castro for his windy preamble, only to have his Cuban counterpart go on for twice as long.

Obama acknowledged that dismantling the Cuba trade embargo would require the cooperation of Congress, both chambers of which will be controlled by Republicans come January. “I think there are real opportunities to get things done in Congress,” he said. “The question is going to be are we able to separate out those areas where we disagree and those areas where we agree.”

One key area of disagreement is the Keystone XL pipeline, which Republicans are set to move forward with early next year. Asked Friday whether he would approve the project, which has been touted by Republicans as a job-creator and strongly opposed by environmental groups, Obama sounded less inclined than ever. “It’s not even going to be a nominal benefit to U.S. consumers,” the President said.

But Obama made a case that in a year dotted with setbacks and marked by ongoing Congressional dysfunction, the U.S. government had largely succeeded in rising to the challenge. Ebola has been wiped from U.S. shores and is receding in much of West Africa. The tide of unaccompanied minors arriving on the southern border has swept back out. The U.S. campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) saw the first signs of success. The economy is steadily improving, even if many have yet to feel the benefits of a brightening job market.

“I guess that’s my general theme for the end of the year. We’ve gone through difficult times,” Obama said. “But through persistent effort and faith in the American people, things get better.”

“Part of what I hope, as we reflect on the new year, this should generate is some confidence,” Obama said. “America knows how to solve problems. And when we work together, we can’t be stopped.

“And now I’m going to go on vacation,” the President added, eyeing an exit for his annual trip to Hawaii. “Mele Kalikimaka, everybody. Mahalo.”

TIME White House

Obama Says Sony ‘Made a Mistake’ Pulling The Interview

President Barack Obama speaks to members of the media during his last news conference of the year in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House on Dec. 19, 2014 in Washington.
President Barack Obama speaks to members of the media during his last news conference of the year in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House on Dec. 19, 2014 in Washington. Alex Wong—Getty Images

"That’s not who we are," Obama said

President Barack Obama said Friday that Sony “made a mistake” in pulling its film The Interview from distribution following a cyberattack that American officials have linked to North Korea.

Speaking to reporters at the White House, Obama confirmed the FBI’s assessment that North Korea was behind the attack. He said he wished the studio had reached out to him before canceling the film’s release, and that he fears it sets a bad precedent for the nation.

“We cannot have a society where some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship here in the United States,” Obama said. “Imagine if producers and distributors and others start engaging in self-censorship because they don’t want to offend the sensibilities of someone who’s sensibilities probably need to be offended.”

“That’s not who we are,” Obama added, noting that the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing did not deter runners from running this year. “That’s not what America’s about.”

Sony Pictures Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton, appearing on CNN shortly after Obama spoke, defended the studio. “We have not caved,” he said. “We have not given up. We have persevered and we have not backed down. We have always had every desire to have the American public see this movie.”

Obama promised that the United States would respond “proportionally” to the attack, but would not detail those actions publicly.

“We will respond,” he said. We will respond proportionally, and we will respond at a place and time that we choose.”

Read more: The 7 most outrageous things we learned from the Sony hack

TIME politics

Rand Paul: Cuba Isolationists Just Don’t Get It

marco-rubio-rand-paul
T.J. Kirkpatrick—Getty Images; Rogelio V. Solis.—AP

Paul is the junior U.S. Senator for Kentucky.

Let's hope cooler heads will ultimately prevail and we unleash a trade tsunami that washes the Castros once and for all into the sea.

I grew up in a family that despised, not only communism, but collectivism, socialism and any “ism” that deprived the individual of his or her natural rights.

As a kid, I listened to the stories of an old Ukrainian fisherman who talked of fighting the Bolsheviks. More times than I can remember, I’ve heard horror stories of those who fled Castro’s Cuba. I ran for office to fight for the individual and against statism of any kind anywhere and yet… I think a policy of isolationism toward Cuba is misplaced and hasn’t worked.

I support engagement, diplomacy, and trade with Cuba, China, Vietnam, and many countries with less than stellar human rights records, because I believe that once enslaved people taste freedom and see the products of capitalism they will become hungry for freedom themselves.

President George W. Bush wrote that “trade creates the habits of freedom,” and trade provides the seeds of freedom that begin “to create the expectations of democracy.” Once trade begins it is hard to hide the amazing products of capitalism. The Soviets used to produce documentaries depicting poverty in America but it backfired when Russian viewers noticed that even in the poorest of circumstances you could still see televisions flickering in the windows. Once trade is enhanced with Cuba, it will be impossible to hide the bounty that freedom provides.

The supporters of the embargo against Cuba speak with heated passion but fall strangely silent when asked how trade with Cuba is so different than trade with Russia or China or Vietnam.

It is an inconsistent and incoherent position to support trade with other communist countries, but not communist Cuba.

Even the supporters of the embargo agree that it has not worked. A policy of isolationism with Cuba and engagement with China and Vietnam does not make any sense. Communism can’t survive the captivating allure of capitalism. Let’s overwhelm the Castro regime with iPhones, iPads, American cars, and American ingenuity.

My family’s opposition to communism was so fierce that when Nixon said the U.S. would trade with Red China our response was heated and passionately opposed. But over time my family and many conservatives came to believe that trade was better than war and more effective. While China’s human rights record leaves much to be desired, our engagement and trade has without question helped to open Chinese society.

Over the years, many conservatives have come to believe that trade with China and Vietnam is the best way to overcome and defeat communism. Trade and relations also make it less likely that we ever go to war with China, because the two countries have become economically intertwined.

That being said, it is ultimately Congress not the President who will debate and decide whether the embargo will end. Congress, not the Executive, has dominion over many aspects of the trade and travel embargo. I doubt Congress will vote to end the embargo at this time, but my hope is that restoring diplomatic ties will induce Cubans to rise up and demand more freedom and more trade with the U.S.

Those who love freedom and want to see a free Cuba should continue to demand nothing less than a democratic republic that defends the rights of the individual. After 50 years of embargo and no evidence of tyranny losing its grip, maybe it’s time for a new approach.

Public opinion is changing on this issue. Young Cuban-Americans have shifted their position on the embargo, and many young people support a change in policy. American farmers and other exporters would benefit by being able to sell more products to a country right off the coast of Florida.

Doug Bandow, of the CATO Institute writes that proponents of the embargo have it all wrong when they make the fear mongering claim that diplomacy with Cuba will make America less safe. Bandow argues that “America has engaged in years of on-and-off discussions with North Korea’s Kim dynasty stretching back to the Clinton administration. Under President Obama Washington has been negotiating with Iran’s government for months: most people recognize that a diplomatic settlement, no matter how difficult to achieve, would be better than war.”

For 70 years we had diplomatic relations with Russia, despite the gulags, despite the atrocities of Stalin and others. Reagan, himself, engaged and negotiated with Communist Russia.

The 50-year embargo against Cuba has not worked. If the goal was regime change, then it sure does not seem to be working. It also hurts the people more than the regime, because the regime can blame the embargo for hardship.

Emotions understandably run high for those whose parents and grandparents had their land and their lives taken from them. But if our goal is to defeat Castro and defeat communism then perhaps we should step back and ask ourselves, “Has the embargo worked?” If we allow the passions to cool, maybe just maybe, we might conclude that trade is better than war and that capitalism wins every time a people get a chance to see its products.

Let’s hope cooler heads will ultimately prevail and we unleash a trade tsunami that washes the Castros once and for all into the sea.

Paul is the junior U.S. Senator for Kentucky.

Read next: Rand Taunts Rubio On Cuba Policy

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME 2016 Election

Rand Taunts Rubio On Cuba Policy

Rubio "is acting like an isolationist," Paul charges

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul took to Twitter Friday to criticize his Republican colleague and likely 2016 presidential-primary rival Sen. Marco Rubio for the latter’s continued support of the U.S. embargo of Cuba.

In a series of tweets, Paul taunted the Florida senator over Rubio’s opposition to President Barack Obama’s efforts to normalize relations between the two countries, accusing Rubio of “acting like an isolationist.” The charge was even more biting given that Paul has been criticized by Republican hawks for being an isolationist on foreign policy.

Paul said Obama’s move was “probably a good idea,” while Rubio has heavily criticized the move.

The tweets are only the latest digital assault that Paul’s team has launched against a potential primary rival. Earlier this week, Paul’s political-action committee began running Google search ads critical of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

TIME White House

Watch Live: President Obama’s Year-End News Conference

President Barack Obama is addressing reporters at the White House on Friday afternoon, amid the FBI’s announcement that it’s determined North Korea is behind the massive Sony hack and Obama’s move to normalize relations with Cuba.

Watch the news conference live above.

TIME

#AskTIME Subscriber Q and A: Nancy Gibbs

Welcome to TIME’s Subscriber Q&A, with TIME’s Managing Editor, Nancy Gibbs, who recently selected The Ebola Fighters as TIME’s choice for Person of the Year 2014.

You need to be a TIME subscriber to read the Q & A. ($30 a year or 8 cents a day for the magazine and all digital content.) Once you’re signed up, you can log in to the site with a username and password.

deconstructive asks, Nancy, being THE boss at TIME, how would you best describe your everyday duties? Top management have to handle so many larger Big Picture tasks, delegate other tasks, and keep everything profitable and running. So are you first and foremost a Chief Trendspotter and Trendsetter, or do you delegate that to local editors? Or a Chief Marketer for the TIME brand? Or a Chief Executive Referee keeping the troops happy and solving internal problems to keep TIME on course and on budget? Or Chief Crusading Officer who handles specific stories and causes that set examples for everyone and best keeps TIME in the public eye and public good? Of course, you have to do all of those, but what do you see as your primary role?

That’s a fascinating question; I hadn’t ever really broken it down that way, and as you suggest, the role involves a bit of all of those, though fortunately not all at the same time! I’d say the primary role is communicating a vision for TIME that is clear to our entire team, all around the world: What stars do we steer by, what rules do we play by, what ambitions do we share for our journalism? That is closely related to the other key role, which is recruiting, protecting and unleashing talent. If you have the best people and give them a clear vision, the rest is a matter of getting out of the way. So all the time I spend on those other tasks, whether budgets or marketing or management, is in the interest of letting great journalists do great work.

Mainly, I go to a lot of meetings. But that’s partly so other people don’t have to!

PaulDirks asks, The fact that exaggerated claims about Ebola have been pegged ‘The Lie of The year” and the fact that accurate information about the subject can actually mean the difference between life or death, do you ever feel that your responsibility as a journalist should include calling out other sources when they spread disinformation? It often feels to me that Fox news (and outfits such as the Daily Caller) enjoy a level of professional courtesy that is not warranted based on the quality of their reporting.

I don’t think you can live a happy life as a journalist unless you have a deep faith that the truth will win in the end, “sunlight is the best disinfectant”, etc. I believe our readers are smart, engaged in the world, skeptical about competing claims and eager to decide for themselves. So as long as we are doing everything we can to thoroughly cover important stories, with reliable information, as are lots of other news organizations and increasingly, individuals who find a platform for their expertise, I have faith that people who want to know the truth will be able to find it.

DonQuixotic asks, Nancy, you’ve written extensively about the line of Presidents and their influences, particularly about the legacies they leave one another and how that shapes their policies. Assuming that Hillary Clinton gets the Democrat’s nomination and is elected, how do you feel the first female President will change the “World’s Most Exclusive Fraternity”? Do you feel those that would follow in her footsteps will hold her legacy to an unfair standard, much in the same way that they likely will Obama for his being the first African American President?

I think that Hillary Clinton, or any female president of either party, would be warmly welcomed into that exclusive fraternity (though we’ll need a new name.) Here’s why; what Michael Duffy and I found in our research and all our conversations with presidents and those closest to them is that the job is so enormous, what it does to you is so profound, that this tends to unite those who’ve held it in powerful ways. When we looked at the private relationships among presidents, ideology didn’t matter, nor age or party or personality; why else was Bill Clinton calling Richard Nixon late at night? It was to talk to someone who knew what it was like to do the job. When Bush 43 invited the whole Club—his dad, Clinton, Carter—to meet the newly elected Obama, he told the newcomer that “We want you to succeed. All of us who have served in this office understand that the office transcends the individual.” I think this would be every bit as true for the first female president.

DonQuixotic asks, Nancy, is there any insight you could give us into the selection process for TIME’s Person of the Year from start to finish? How is the list cultivated? Is the final decision yours alone or does it come down to a debate and/or vote among senior TIME staff? Are there ever any objections among the TIME team about the final choice?

In the end it is my decision, strictly speaking. But I can’t imagine that I would ever choose someone if I was at odds with my top editors, who in turn represent the views of all our journalists in the field. We debate this question at great length, and some years have found the decision being made and unmade as December approaches; certainly in the first half of the year, I was pretty convinced we would be doing Putin. We aren’t looking for consensus, though we often achieve it. But the conversation and arguments are fascinating, and we all value the exercise as a chance to step back from the weekly/daily/hourly pressures of coverage to think more broadly about what really made a difference this year, where we’ve come, what we’ve learned.

deconstructive asks, Nancy, thanks for your choice of Person of the Year. It’s inspirational for a group of people like the Ebola fighters or Ferguson protestors to receive due credit. But knowing that POTY is to go to the person who, for good or ill, has most affected the course of the year, do you think maybe the POTY should be changed to be a badge of honor in affecting the news and everyone for the public good, with rare exceptions like a political or military leader who starts a world war, or something so obviously bad it can’t be ignored (like the “Red X” covers)? As local TV news proves, it’s way too easy to find negative headlines (car crashes, fires, shootings), but it’s often harder to do good than to wreck havoc, and we need more positive deeds for our society to progress …and more media coverage of those good works. Thoughts?

I will admit it is much more fun and gratifying, given the untold hours we spend on POY, when we get to choose a person or people we all admire. But that is actually an unusual circumstance, just as choosing an unambiguously evil figure like Hitler was. Most of the time, the significant players are more complex, and indeed in some way divisive. When we pick a newly elected or reelected president of the United States, as we did with Obama, Bush, Clinton etc., it’s a safe bet that roughly half the country approves and half doesn’t. Even Pope Francis last year, for all his popularity, has his share of critics who didn’t approve of the “honor” of POY. So yes, some years like this there are true heroes to extol, and some years there are villains to lament, but most years—well, influence is complicated, as are the people who weild it.

nflfoghorn asks, Hello Nancy – excellent choice for POTY. But why were Americans undereducated by the media on the effects of the Ebola virus? Immediate, irrational panic occurred instead of understanding from those who should know (i.e., MSM) about how difficult it is to actually contract Ebola.

I was struck by how much misunderstanding there was, but maybe we should not have been surprised; a great many news organizations said over and over that it was hard to contract. And yet when we started seeing doctors and nurses being infected, even when they were taking precautions and admitted they weren’t sure how they were exposed, it triggered some of that panic. Are there things about this disease that even the “experts’ have missed? Over time that dissipated, but I understand why, in the concern around the Thomas Eric Duncan case, the alarms were heard more clearly than the reassurances.

yogi asks, NG, while this may have been before your time as managing editor, which TIME cover caused TIME to receive more hate: the 2006 “You” as person of the year or the 2012 Breastfeeding cover? Is there another cover that we’re missing that’s caused more vitriol towards TIME?

With each passing year, our outrage has more outlets. So now, when we publish a cover on Hillary Clinton that people don’t like, or the one on Chris Christie, they have a much easier time making their anger known to us. So that makes it hard to compare. I know that in 1979, when the Ayatollah Khomeini was named Man of the Year, thousands of people canceled subscriptions—even though the editors reminded people that the designation was “for better or worse.” When we did Is God Dead? in 1966, there were certainly readers who found the very question blasphemous. And I’m sure as we go back into the archives, we would find more. That’s one for me to ask our new History vertical editor!

TIME intelligence

FBI Accuses North Korea in Sony Hack

North Korean leader Kim inspects the Artillery Company under the KPA Unit 963, in this undated photo released by North Korea's KCNA in Pyongyang
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspects the Artillery Company under the Korean People's Army Unit 963 in Pyongyang on Dec. 2, 2014 KCNA/Reuters

Fallout led Sony to pull The Interview

The FBI on Friday accused the North Korean government of being behind the devastating hack on Sony Pictures Entertainment that eventually prompted it to cancel the release of The Interview, the first formal statement that the U.S. government has concluded the isolated nation is responsible for the cyberattack.

“The FBI now has enough information to conclude that the North Korean government is responsible,” the bureau said in a statement. “Though the FBI has seen a wide variety and increasing number of cyber intrusions, the destructive nature of this attack, coupled with its coercive nature, sets it apart.”

President Barack Obama, asked Friday about Sony’s decision to pull The Interview, said: “Yes, I think they made a mistake”

The FBI said it determined North Korea was responsible based on an analysis of the malware involved and its similarities to previous attacks the U.S. government has attribute to North Korean-allied hackers, including an assault on South Korean banks and media outlets in 2013. These include “similarities in specific lines of code, encryption algorithms, data deletion methods, and compromised networks,” the FBI said in its statement. According to the FBI, the malware used in the attack communicated with known North Korean computers. The FBI didn’t furnish evidence to back its assertion that North Korea was involved. North Korea has denied being behind the hack.

Read more: The 7 most outrageous things we learned from the Sony hack

Bureau investigators have been working for weeks with Sony executives and private security experts to investigate the scale and origins of the attack. For Sony, the hack has been devastating: It crippled the studio’s infrastructure, leaked sensitive documents about tens of thousands of employees and contractors, embarrassed executives and resulted in the studio’s decision to pull, The Interview, a movie whose plot centers around the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The film incensed the North Korean government.

Read more: 4 things every single person can learn from the Sony hack

The FBI did not say whether the attack was coordinated from within North Korea or through allies outside the hermit kingdom. The FBI said it could only provide limited information to the public to protect its sources and methods.

President Barack Obama is expected to address the incident on Friday afternoon in a White House news conference. On Thursday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the administration was treating the incident as a “serious national security matter.”

White House officials have convened daily meetings to discuss the attack and to devise options for a “proportional response,” Earnest said, not ruling out an American counter-attack on North Korean systems.

“The FBI’s announcement that North Korea is responsible for the attack on Sony Pictures is confirmation of what we suspected to be the case: that cyber terrorists, bent on wreaking havoc, have violated a major company to steal personal information, company secrets and threaten the American public,” Chris Dodd, who heads the trade group Motion Picture Association of America, said in a statement. “It is a despicable, criminal act.”

See the full FBI statement:

Today, the FBI would like to provide an update on the status of our investigation into the cyber attack targeting Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE). In late November, SPE confirmed that it was the victim of a cyber attack that destroyed systems and stole large quantities of personal and commercial data. A group calling itself the “Guardians of Peace” claimed responsibility for the attack and subsequently issued threats against SPE, its employees, and theaters that distribute its movies.

The FBI has determined that the intrusion into SPE’s network consisted of the deployment of destructive malware and the theft of proprietary information as well as employees’ personally identifiable information and confidential communications. The attacks also rendered thousands of SPE’s computers inoperable, forced SPE to take its entire computer network offline, and significantly disrupted the company’s business operations.

After discovering the intrusion into its network, SPE requested the FBI’s assistance. Since then, the FBI has been working closely with the company throughout the investigation. Sony has been a great partner in the investigation, and continues to work closely with the FBI. Sony reported this incident within hours, which is what the FBI hopes all companies will do when facing a cyber attack. Sony’s quick reporting facilitated the investigators’ ability to do their jobs, and ultimately to identify the source of these attacks.

As a result of our investigation, and in close collaboration with other U.S. Government departments and agencies, the FBI now has enough information to conclude that the North Korean government is responsible for these actions. While the need to protect sensitive sources and methods precludes us from sharing all of this information, our conclusion is based, in part, on the following:

· Technical analysis of the data deletion malware used in this attack revealed links to other malware that the FBI knows North Korean actors previously developed. For example, there were similarities in specific lines of code, encryption algorithms, data deletion methods, and compromised networks.

· The FBI also observed significant overlap between the infrastructure used in this attack and other malicious cyber activity the U.S. Government has previously linked directly to North Korea. For example, the FBI discovered that several Internet protocol (IP) addresses associated with known North Korean infrastructure communicated with IP addresses that were hardcoded into the data deletion malware used in this attack.

· Separately, the tools used in the SPE attack have similarities to a cyber attack in March of last year against South Korean banks and media outlets, which was carried out by North Korea.

We are deeply concerned about the destructive nature of this attack on a private sector entity and the ordinary citizens who worked there. Further, North Korea’s attack on SPE reaffirms that cyber threats pose one of the gravest national security dangers to the United States. Though the FBI has seen a wide variety and increasing number of cyber intrusions, the destructive nature of this attack, coupled with its coercive nature, sets it apart. North Korea’s actions were intended to inflict significant harm on a U.S. business and suppress the right of American citizens to express themselves. Such acts of intimidation fall outside the bounds of acceptable state behavior. The FBI takes seriously any attempt – whether through cyber-enabled means, threats of violence, or otherwise – to undermine the economic and social prosperity of our citizens.

The FBI stands ready to assist any U.S. company that is the victim of a destructive cyber attack or breach of confidential business information. Further, the FBI will continue to work closely with multiple departments and agencies as well as with domestic, foreign, and private sector partners who have played a critical role in our ability to trace this and other cyber threats to their source. Working together, the FBI will identify, pursue, and impose costs and consequences on individuals, groups, or nation states who use cyber means to threaten the United States or U.S. interests.

TIME Know Right Now

Know Right Now: U.S. and Cuba Reevaluate Relationship

Watch #KnowRightNow to catch up on today's trending story

This week, prisoners were exchanged between the United States and Cuba as part of a joint effort to ease decades of tension between the two countries. Alan Gross was released from Cuba on humanitarian grounds. In exchange, three prisoners who were part of the famed Cuban Five were released by the United States.

That exchange came amid a historic thawing in relations between the U.S. and Cuba, as the President announced plans to ease the decades-long embargo on the island. Certain American exports will be allowed to go to Cuba, and the caps on remittances will be raised as well. However, President Obama cannot single-handedly lift the embargo, as only Congress has that power.

Watch today’s #KnowRightNow to find out more.

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