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Obama's Wide-Ranging, Year-End News Conference

President Obama speaks in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House during a media briefing last month.

President Obama spoke to reporters in a year-end news conference at the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House.

Two main topics that came up were Sony Pictures' decision to cancel distribution of the film The Interview following North Korea's cyber attack against the company's servers.

The president said he thought Sony "made a mistake" and that it could set a dangerous precedent to allow "some dictator" to control free speech in America.

"I wish they'd spoken with me first," the president said of the film's producers. "I would have told them 'do not get into a pattern where you're intimidated by these threats."

On this week's White House announcement that the United States would move toward normalization relations with Cuba after five decades of diplomatic isolation, Obama said there were "no plans" for him to visit Cuba before his term as president is over nor for Cuban leader Raul Castro to visit the U.S.

Here's our live blog:

Update at 2:23 p.m. ET. Congress Must Lift Cuban Embargo

"We cannot unilaterally bring down the embargo," Obama said.

There are bipartisan supporters of this approach; there are bipartisan detractors of this approach," he said of his decision to normalize relations with Havana.

"I do not anticipate this will happen right away," he said.

He called the embargo "self defeating."

Update at 2:20 p.m. ET. Cuba-U.S. Relations

The president said that it's not out of the question that Cuba could take actions that the U.S. did not like.

"That's true of any number of countries," he said.

"The whole point on normalizing relations is that it gives us more influence on that nation," the president said.

Update at 2:15 p.m. ET. On Cuba

"We are glad the Cuban government has released slightly over 50 dissidents," the president said.

"I share the concerns of dissidents there and human rights activists that this is still a regime that oppressed its people," he said.

"But what I know deep in my bones that if you've tried the same thing for 50 years and nothing changed, it's time to do something different," the president said.

"The more the Cuban people see what's possible, the more interested they will be in change. It could happen fast, or it could happen slower than I like," Obama said.

Here's our live blog:

Update at 2:38 p.m. ET. Race Relations

"Like the rest of America, black America in the aggregate is better off than it was when I took office," he said.

"The gap in income between black and white America persists," he said. "This is a legacy of a troubled racial past. Jim Crow. This is not an excuse for black America, but it's a fact."

"I actually think it's a healthy conversation that we're having," the president. "You're not going to solve the problems unless they're being talked about.

"I am very pleased that we have Republicans and Democrats in Congress who are interested in these issues," he said.

"If you offer practical solutions, I think people want to fix these problems," Obama said.

Update at 2:32 p.m. ET. Keystone Pipeline

"At issue is Canadian oil, not American oil," Obama said. "It would save Canadian oil companies and the Canadian oil industry an enormous amount of money if they could ship their oil down to the Gulf."

There's very little impact on U.S. gas prices, he said.

"The implication is that this is going to lower gas prices in the United States – it's not," he said.

He said it would add "a couple of thousand jobs" during the construction phase of the project, but those would only be temporary.

He said it was important that if the project goes forward, it doesn't contribute to climate change.

Update at 2:25 p.m. ET. President Has No Plans To Visit Cuba

Obama said there were "no plans" for him to visit Cuba before his term as president is over. And likewise, the two countries are not at a stage where Cuban leader Raul Castro would visit the U.S.

"I am a fairly young man, so I imagine at some point I would be able to visit Cuba, the Cuban people," he said.

Update at 2:23 p.m. ET. Congress Must Lift Cuban Embargo

"We cannot unilaterally bring down the embargo," Obama said.

There are bipartisan supporters of this approach; there are bipartisan detractors of this approach," he said of his decision to normalize relations with Havana.

"I do not anticipate this will happen right away," he said.

He called the embargo "self defeating."

Update at 2:20 p.m. ET. Cuba-U.S. Relations

The president said that it's not out of the question that Cuba could take actions that the U.S. did not like.

"That's true of any number of countries," he said.

"The whole point on normalizing relations is that it gives us more influence on that nation," the president said.

Update at 2:15 p.m. ET. On Cuba

"We are glad the Cuban government has released slightly over 50 dissidents," the president said.

"I share the concerns of dissidents there and human rights activists that this is still a regime that oppressed its people," he said.

"But what I know deep in my bones that if you've tried the same thing for 50 years and nothing changed, it's time to do something different," the president said.

"The more the Cuban people see what's possible, the more interested they will be in change. It could happen fast, or it could happen slower than I like," Obama said.

Update at 2:10 p.m. ET: Chance For Tax Reform

Obama said that after talking to Speaker of the House John Boehner and incoming Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell that tax reform is possible.

"I'd like to see more simplicity in the system. I'd like to see more fairness in the system," Obama said.

"The devil is in the details," he said. "I am going to make sure we put forward some pretty specific proposals."

Update at 2:05 p.m. ET: Sony's Pulling 'The Interview' A Mistake

Obama said Sony Pictures' decision to cancel the release of 'The Interview' because of a North Korean hack attack was wrong.

Sony he said "made a mistake."

He said it was dangerous to allow "some dictator" to control free speech in America.

"I wish they'd spoken with me first," the president said. "I would have told them 'do not get into a pattern where you're intimidated by these threats."

"I love Seth; I love James," he said of the movies co-stars, Seth Rogen and James Franco. But the president said it was ridiculous to suggest the comedy was a threat to North Korea.

Pyongyang's hackers, he said "caused a lot of damage.

"We will respond," he added.

Update at 1:55 p.m. ET: List Of Accomplishments

In his opening statement, Obama outlined many of the accomplishments of the year and of his presidency.

He said this year has seen the strongest job growth since the 1990s and that almost all the new growth has been in full-time positions.

"Wages are on the rise again," he said.

America, the president said " is now the number one producer of oil, the no. one producer of natural gas."

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, the number uninsured Americans are "at a near record low."

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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