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Update December 2016


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Actress Debbie Reynolds has died at 84

This Oct. 14, 2011 file photo shows actress Debbie Reynolds posing for a portrait in New York.(AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

Lynn Elber, AP Television Writer

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Actress Debbie Reynolds, the star of the 1952 classic movie "Singin' in the Rain" has died one day after the death of her daughter, actress-writer Carrie Fisher. Reynolds was 84.

Her son, Todd Fisher, said Reynolds died Wednesday.

"She's now with Carrie and we're all heartbroken," Fisher said from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where his mother was taken by ambulance earlier Wednesday.

He said the stress of his sister's death on Tuesday "was too much" for Reynolds. Carrie Fisher, who was 60, had been hospitalized since Friday.

"She said, 'I want to be with Carrie,'" her son said. "And then she was gone."

Reynolds enjoyed the very heights of show business success and endured the depths of personal tragedy and betrayal. She lost one husband to Elizabeth Taylor and two other husbands plundered her for millions. Fisher, who found lasting fame as Princess Leia in "Star Wars" and struggled for much of her life with drug addiction and mental health problems, died after falling ill on a plane and being hospitalized.

In this Feb. 27, 1959, file photo, working long hours on the set of "Say One For Me," so she can fly to Spain and start another movie, actress Debbie Reynolds is visited at the studio by her children, Carrie, 2, and 1-year-old Todd. (AP Photo, File)

Reynolds was a superstar early in life. After two minor roles at Warner Bros. and three supporting roles at MGM, studio boss Louis B. Mayer cast her in "Singin' in the Rain," despite Kelly's objections. She was 19 with little dance experience, and she would be appearing with two of the screen's greatest dancers, Donald O'Connor and Kelly, who also co-directed.

"Gene Kelly was hard on me, but I think he had to be," Reynolds, who more than held her own in the movie, said in a 1999 Associated Press interview. "I had to learn everything in three to six months. Donald O'Connor had been dancing since he was three months old, Gene Kelly since he was 2 years old. ... I think Gene knew I had to be challenged."

"The Unsinkable Molly Brown" was based on the life of a Colorado woman who rose from poverty to riches and triumphed over tragedy, including the sinking of the Titanic

In this Sept. 8, 1982, file photo, actress Debbie Reynolds poses on a grand piano at a New York restaurant, as she promotes the revival of the hit musical "The Unsinkable Molly Brown."(AP Photo/Marty Lederhandler, File)

The 1964 Meredith Willson musical, with Molly's defiant song "I Ain't Down Yet," brought Reynolds her only Academy Award nomination. She also received a Tony nomination in 1973 when she starred on Broadway in the revival of "Irene," in which her daughter also appeared.

After her transition from starlet to star, Reynolds became immensely popular with teenage girls and even more so when in 1955 she married Eddie Fisher, the pop singer whose fans were equally devoted.

The couple made a movie together, "Bundle of Joy," which seemed to mirror the 1956 birth of Carrie. The Fishers also had a son, Todd, named for Eddie's close friend and Taylor's husband, showman Mike Todd.

During this period, Reynolds had a No. 1 hit on the pop charts in 1957 with "Tammy," the Oscar-nominated song from her film "Tammy and the Bachelor." But the Cinderella story ended after Mike Todd died in a 1958 airplane crash. Fisher consoled the widow and soon announced he was leaving his wife and two children to marry Taylor.

In this May 22, 1955, file photo, actress Debbie Reynolds entertains at 8th Army headquarters in Seoul, South Korea.(AP Photo, File)

The celebrity world seemed to lose its mind. Taylor was assailed as a husband stealer, Fisher as a deserter of his family. Reynolds won sympathy as the innocent victim, a role emphasized when she appeared before news cameras with diaper pins on her blouse. A cover headline in Photoplay magazine in late 1958 blared: "Smiling through her tears, Debbie says: I'm still very much in love with Eddie."

Fisher's singing career never recovered, but Taylor, who left him for Richard Burton in 1962, remained a top star. And Reynolds' film career flourished. She starred with Glenn Ford in "The Gazebo," Tony Curtis in "The Rat Race," Fred Astaire in "The Pleasure of His Company," Andy Griffith in "The Second Time Around," with the all-star cast in "How the West Was Won" and Ricardo Montalban in "The Singing Nun."

She also provided the voice of Charlotte the spider in the 1973 animated "Charlotte's Web."

But over the years, her marital woes continued.

In 1960 Reynolds married shoe magnate Harry Karl. The marriage ended in disaster when she discovered that Karl, a compulsive gambler, had devastated her assets and left her deeply in debt. She divorced him in 1973 and toured tirelessly with her song and dance show to pay off creditors.

Reynolds' third marriage, to Virginia businessman Richard Hamlett in 1984, proved equally disastrous. In 1992, against friends' advice, she paid $10 million to buy and convert the faded Paddlewheel Hotel in Las Vegas into the Debbie Reynolds Hotel and Casino. She performed nightly and conducted tours of her movie memorabilia, which she had collected since MGM auctioned its artifacts in 1970.

Reynolds, who ended up filing for bankruptcy in 1997 and selling the property at auction the next year, accused Hamlett of making off with her money. She once again went on the road.

"All of my husbands have robbed me blind," she asserted in 1999. "The only one who didn't take money was Eddie Fisher. He just didn't pay for the children."

In her later years, Reynolds continued performing her show, traveling 40 weeks a year. She also appeared regularly on television, appearing as John Goodman's mother on "Roseanne" and a mom on "Will & Grace." Her books included the memoirs "Unsinkable" and "Make 'Em Laugh."

In 1996 she won critical acclaim in the title role of Albert Brooks' movie "Mother," in which Brooks played a struggling writer who moves back home and works on his strained relationship with Reynolds' character. A few years earlier, she had wanted to play the mother in the film adaptation of Fisher's bittersweet autobiographical novel "Postcards From the Edge," which featured mother-daughter actresses. Director Mike Nichols cast Shirley MacLaine instead.

Reynolds and Fisher were featured together in the HBO documentary "Bright Lights," scheduled for release in 2017.

Mary Frances Reynolds spent the first eight years of her life in Depression-era poverty in El Paso, Texas, where she was born on April 1, 1932. Her father, a carpenter for the Southern Pacific Railroad, was transferred to southern California and the family settled in Burbank, near Warner Bros. studio.

The girl flourished, winning 48 Girl Scout merit badges, excelling in sports and playing French horn and bass viola in the Burbank Youth Symphony. Girlfriends persuaded her to enter the beauty contest for Miss Burbank, and she won over the judges by lip-syncing to a Betty Hutton record.

She did team up with Taylor — long since divorced from Fisher — and two other veterans, Joan Collins and MacLaine, for the 2001 TV movie "These Old Broads." The script, co-written by Reynolds' daughter, was about aging, feuding actresses who get together for a reunion show. Reynolds would look back wryly on the Taylor affair, acknowledging that no man could have resisted her and that she actually voted for Taylor when she was up for best actress in 1960. The former romantic rivals had reconciled years before Taylor died in 2011; Reynolds recalled they had both been passengers on the Queen Elizabeth.

"I sent a note to her and she sent a note to me in passing, and then we had dinner together," she told The Huffington Post a few months after Taylor's death. "She was married to Richard Burton by then. I had been remarried at that point. And we just said, 'Let's call it a day.' And we got smashed. And we had a great evening, and stayed friends since then."

In this Sept. 10, 2011, file photo, Debbie Reynolds, left, and Carrie Fisher arrive at the Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, File)

AP entertainment reporters Hillel Italie in New York and Sandy Cohen and Anthony McCartney in Los Angeles contributed to this report. The late Associated Press writer Bob Thomas contributed biographical material to this report.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Reactions to the death of actress Debbie Reynolds

In this May 21, 2013 file photo, actress Debbie Reynolds poses for a portrait in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)

The Associated Press

Reaction to the death of actress Debbie Reynolds Wednesday at 84, a day after her daughter, Carrie Fisher, died:

— "Debbie Reynolds, a legend and my movie mom. I can't believe this happened one day after Carrie. My heart goes out to Billie." — Albert Brooks, on Twitter.

— "Truly heartbroken to hear @DebbieReynolds1 has died. She was a wonderfully warm friend and colleague. Praying for Todd & Billie. #RIPDebbie" — Joan Collins on Twitter.

— "How shocked we were to learn that Debbie Reynolds passed away just a day after her daughter Carrie. I loved & worked both of these icons." — Carl Reiner on Twitter.

— "The loss of #DebbieReynolds 1 day after #CarrieFisher is epic. 2016 has taken a piece of all of us" — Actress Illeana Douglas on Twitter.

— "I can't imagine what Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds' family are going through this week. I send all of my love." — Ellen DeGeneres on Twitter.

— "Debbie Reynolds was one of the last of Hollywood Royalty. It breaks my heart that she is gone. I'd hoped that my grieving was done for 2016." — William Shatner on Twitter.

— "Debbie Reynolds cd sing, dance & gave dazzling performances. RIP doesn't sound right for her or Carrie-I hope they're somewhere having fun" — Mia Farrow, on Twitter.

— "A final curtain made of tears #DebbieReynolds #CarrieFisher" — Actress Rose McGowan on Twitter.

— "Today is officially a sad day. As a mother my heart goes out to Debbie Reynolds and her daughter Carrie Fisher. RIP DB and CF" — Actress Zoe Saldana on Twitter.

— "The unbearable loss of a child and now this. Rest In Peace Carrie and Debbie, sending our love and prayers to the Fisher, Lord family" — Actress Lisa Rinna on Twitter.

— "My thoughts and prayers are with the family during this time of unimaginable loss. Two generations in two days." — Chaz Bono on Twitter.

— "Deepest condolences to the family of Debbie Reynolds. I was just notified of her passing. Such a talented charming lady & a good mother" — Actress Barbara Eden on Twitter.

— "There is nothing harder than having to bury a child. Debbie died of a broken heart, but she's with her daughter now." — Actor George Takei on Twitter.

— "I can't imagine what kind of pain the family of Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds are feeling right now. My prayers are with them." — Actress Gabourey Sidibe on Twitter.

— "Let's just cancel the rest of this annus horribilus, have hogmanay now and start 2017 tomorrow. I'm done." — Comedian Craig Ferguson on Instagram.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Australian police seize 1 ton of cocaine, arrest 15 men

A police officer guards a haul of drugs that are on display at an Australian Federal Police office in Sydney, Australia, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2016.(AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

SYDNEY (AP) — Australian officials seized more than a ton of cocaine worth about 360 million Australian dollars ($260 million) in what police on Thursday dubbed one of the largest drug busts in the nation's history.

Fifteen men were arrested following a 2 ฝ-year federal and state police investigation into suspected drug trafficking by commercial fishermen in Sydney, New South Wales police said in a statement.

In March, officials seized 600 kilograms (1,300 pounds) of cocaine in the South Pacific island nation of Tahiti that police say was bound for the Australian market. On Sunday, police seized 500 kilograms (1,100 pounds) of cocaine that was found on a boat in the town of Brooklyn, 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of Sydney. The drugs are believed to have come from South America.

"The size of that seizure collectively makes it the largest cocaine seizure in Australian law enforcement history," Australian Federal Police Acting Assistant Commissioner Chris Sheehan told reporters. "The criminal syndicate we have dismantled over the last few days was a robust, resilient and determined syndicate."

In early December, police and border officials began monitoring a vessel that was traveling between Sydney's popular fish markets and the central coast of New South Wales. On Christmas night, police say a small boat was launched from the vessel and later docked in Brooklyn. Authorities swooped on the boat and arrested three men. Another 12 men were arrested over the past several days.

All of the men have been charged with conspiracy to import a commercial quantity of border-controlled drugs. If convicted, they could face a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Bomb blasts hurt more than 30 at Philippine boxing match

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — More than 30 people were wounded when two bombs exploded while they who were watching a boxing competition in a central Philippine town as part of an annual Roman Catholic festival, police and other officials said Thursday.

The wounded were brought to a hospital in Hilongos town in Leyte province following the late-Wednesday blasts of what initially appeared to be cellphone-detonated homemade bombs, regional army spokeswoman 1st Lt. Cherry Junia said.

Nobody has claimed responsibility that wounded 31. Police said investigators were trying to identify the attackers.

Philippine forces have been placed on alert amid on and off offensives in the country's south against Muslim militants, including Abu Sayyaf gunmen and armed sympathizers of the Islamic State group who have targeted the capital, Manila, and other urban centers in the past.

Communist guerrillas also have a presence in Leyte province, about 610 kilometers (380 miles) southeast of Manila, but there was no immediate indication they or Muslim militants were involved.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Today in History - Thursday, Dec. 29, 2016

The Associated Press

Today is Thursday, Dec. 29, the 364th day of 2016. There are two days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On Dec. 29, 1916, James Joyce's first novel, "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man," was first published in book form in New York after being serialized in London.

On this date:

In 1170, Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury, was slain in Canterbury Cathedral by knights loyal to King Henry II.

In 1808, the 17th president of the United States, Andrew Johnson, was born in Raleigh, North Carolina.

In 1812, during the War of 1812, the American frigate USS Constitution engaged and severely damaged the British frigate HMS Java off Brazil.

In 1845, Texas was admitted as the 28th state.

In 1890, the Wounded Knee massacre took place in South Dakota as an estimated 300 Sioux Indians were killed by U.S. troops sent to disarm them.

In 1934, Japan formally renounced the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922.

In 1940, during World War II, Germany dropped incendiary bombs on London, setting off what came to be known as "The Second Great Fire of London."

In 1957, singers Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme were married in Las Vegas.

In 1972, Eastern Air Lines Flight 401, a Lockheed L-1011 Tristar, crashed into the Florida Everglades near Miami International Airport, killing 101 of the 176 people aboard.

In 1975, a bomb exploded in the main terminal of New York's LaGuardia Airport, killing 11 people (it's never been determined who was responsible).

In 1986, former British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan died in Sussex, England, at age 92.

In 1996, guerrilla and government leaders in Guatemala signed an accord ending 36 years of civil conflict. North Korea issued an unprecedented apology for sending a spy submarine into South Korean waters.

Ten years ago: Word reached the United States of the execution of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein (because of the time difference, it was the morning of Dec. 30 in Iraq when the hanging took place). In a statement, President George W. Bush called Saddam's execution an important milestone on Iraq's road to democracy. Gerald R. Ford's flag-draped casket was carried into a church in Palm Desert, California, for a public viewing that marked the start of six days of mourning for the former president. More than 400 people died when a crowded Indonesian ferry sank in the Java Sea.

Five years ago: Fed-up voters in Jamaica threw out the ruling party and delivered a landslide triumph to the opposition People's National Party and its leader, former Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller. The No. 15 Baylor Bears, led by Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III, pulled out an incredible Alamo Bowl victory in the highest-scoring regulation bowl game in history, beating the Washington Huskies 67-56 at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.

One year ago: Belgian authorities announced they had arrested two men and seized military-type uniforms and Islamic State group propaganda in connection with a suspected plot to unleash holiday season attacks against police and celebrated locations in Brussels. Former "Glee" star Mark Salling was arrested in Los Angeles for investigation of possessing child pornography. (Salling has pleaded not guilty.)

Today's Birthdays: Country singer Rose Lee Maphis is 94. Actress Dina Merrill is 93. Actress Inga Swenson is 84. ABC newscaster Tom Jarriel is 82. Actress Mary Tyler Moore is 80. Actress Barbara Steele is 79. Actor Jon Voight is 78. Country singer Ed Bruce is 77. Rock musician Ray Thomas is 75. Singer Marianne Faithfull is 70. Hall of Fame Jockey Laffit Pincay, Jr. is 70. Actor Ted Danson is 69. Singer-actress Yvonne Elliman is 65. Actress Patricia Clarkson is 57. Comedian Paula Poundstone is 57. Rock singer-musician Jim Reid (The Jesus and Mary Chain) is 55. Actor Michael Cudlitz is 52. Rock singer Dexter Holland (The Offspring) is 51. Actor-comedian Mystro Clark is 50. Actor Jason Gould is 50. News anchor Ashleigh Banfield is 49. Movie director Andy Wachowski is 49. Actress Jennifer Ehle is 47. Actor Patrick Fischler is 47. Rock singer-musician Glen Phillips is 46. Actor Kevin Weisman is 46. Actor Jude Law is 44. Actress Maria Dizzia is 42. Actor Mekhi Phifer (mih-KY' FY'-fuhr) is 42. Actor Shawn Hatosy is 41. Actress Katherine Moennig is 39. Actor Diego Luna is 37. Country singer Jessica Andrews is 33. Actress Jane Levy is 27. Singer-actor-dancer Ross Lynch is 21.

Thought for Today: "Ours is the age of substitutes: Instead of language we have jargon; instead of principles, slogans; and instead of genuine ideas, bright suggestions." — Eric Bentley, British-born American author and educator.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


'Star Wars' actress and author Carrie Fisher dies at 60

In this Thursday, April 7, 2011 file photo, Carrie Fisher arrives at the 2011 NewNowNext Awards in Los Angeles.(AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, File)

Sandy Cohen, AP Entertainment Writer

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Carrie Fisher, a daughter of Hollywood royalty who gained pop-culture fame as Princess Leia in the original "Star Wars" and turned her struggles with addiction and mental illness into wickedly funny books, a hit film and a one-woman stage show, died Tuesday after falling ill aboard a flight last week. She was 60.

"Carrie was one of a kind ... brilliant, original. Funny and emotionally fearless. She lived her life, bravely," ''Star Wars" co-star Harrison Ford said in a statement.

Fisher, the daughter of actress Debbie Reynolds and singer Eddie Fisher, had been hospitalized since Friday, when paramedics responded to a report of a patient in distress at Los Angeles airport. Her family gave no details on the emergency, but media reports said she had suffered a heart attack.

"Thank you to everyone who has embraced the gifts and talents of my beloved and amazing daughter," Reynolds wrote on her Facebook page Tuesday. "I am grateful for your thoughts and prayers that are now guiding her to her next stop. Love Carries Mother."

Fisher made her feature film debut opposite Warren Beatty in the 1975 hit "Shampoo." She also appeared in "Austin Powers," ''The Blues Brothers," ''Charlie's Angels," ''Hannah and Her Sisters," ''Scream 3" and "When Harry Met Sally ..."

But Fisher is best remembered as the headstrong Princess Leia in the original "Star Wars" in 1977, her hair styled in futuristic braided buns. She uttered the immortal phrase "Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you're my only hope."

In this Nov. 13, 1978 file photo, shows, from left, Kenny Baker, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, and Mark Hamill during the filming of the CBS-TV special "The Star Wars Holiday" in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/George Brich, File)

She reprised the role in Episode VII of the series, "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" in 2015, and her digitally rendered image appears in the newest installment, "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story."

"She was extremely smart; a talented actress, writer and comedienne with a very colorful personality that everyone loved," ''Star Wars" creator George Lucas said in a statement.

"In 'Star Wars' she was our great and powerful princess - feisty, wise and full of hope in a role that was more difficult than most people might think."


 

Fisher long battled drug addiction and mental illness. She said she smoked pot at 13, used LSD by 21 and was diagnosed as bipolar at 24. She was treated with electroshock therapy and medication.

In this Nov. 13, 1978 file photo, Harrison Ford talks with Carrie Fisher during a break in the filming of the CBS-TV special "The Star Wars Holiday" in Los Angeles.(AP Photo/George Brich, File)

In 1987, her thinly veiled autobiography "Postcards From the Edge" became a best-seller. It was adapted into a 1990 movie starring Shirley MacLaine and Meryl Streep.

More books followed: "Delusions of Grandma," ''Surrender the Pink," ''The Best Awful," ''Shockaholic" and this year's autobiography, "The Princess Diarist," in which she revealed that she and Ford had an affair on the "Star Wars" set.

In this Tuesday, Aug. 16, 1983, file photo, actress Carrie Fisher and singer Paul Simon stand together at their apartment in New York during their wedding reception.(AP Photo/Mario Suriani, File)

Fisher's one-woman show, "Wishful Drinking," which she had performed across the country since 2006, was turned into a book, made its way to Broadway in 2009 and was filmed for HBO in 2010.

Little was off-limits in the show. She discussed the scandal that engulfed her superstar parents (Fisher ran off with Elizabeth Taylor); her brief marriage to singer Paul Simon; the time the father of her daughter left her for a man; and the day she woke up next to the dead body of a platonic friend who had overdosed in her bed.

"I'm a product of Hollywood inbreeding. When two celebrities mate, something like me is the result," she said in the show. At another point, she cracked: "I don't have a problem with drugs so much as I have a problem with sobriety."

Ever ready to satirize herself, she played Carrie Fisher a few times, as in David Cronenberg's dark Hollywood sendup "Maps to the Stars" and in an episode of "Sex and the City."

In the past 15 years, Fisher appeared as a television guest star, perhaps most memorably as a has-been comedy legend on "30 Rock." She also supplied the voice of a recurring character on the animated "Family Guy" for the past decade.

"Carrie Fisher was smart, funny, talented, surprising and always a hell of a fun time to be around. Family Guy will miss her immensely," show creator Seth MacFarlane tweeted.

Fisher starred with her mother in a documentary set to air on HBO in 2017. "Bright Lights: Starring Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher" premiered at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year.

In this Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2003 file photo, Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher arrive at the "Runway for Life" Celebrity Fashion Show Benefitting St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital and celebrating the DVD relese of Chicago in Beverly Hills, Calif. (AP Photo/Jill Connelly, File)

She endeared herself to the social-media generation with her quirky tweets, laden with crazy keyboard symbols and colorful typefaces.

Her ever-present bulldog, Gary Fisher, had his own Twitter and Instagram account. ("Saddest tweets to tweet. Mommy is gone. I love you @carrieffisher," the dog's Twitter feed read.)

Besides her mother, Fisher is survived by her brother, Todd Fisher, and her daughter, Billie Lourd.

In a 2009 interview with The Associated Press, Fisher wasn't coy about revealing details about her life. She hoped to remove the stigma from mental illness.

"People relate to aspects of my stories and that's nice for me because then I'm not all alone with it," she said. "Also, I do believe you're only as sick as your secrets. If that's true, I'm just really healthy."

In this Oct. 5, 1978 photo, from left, actors Harrison Ford, Anthony Daniels, Carrie Fisher and Peter Mayhew take a break from filming a television special in Los Angeles to be telecast during the holidays.(AP Photo/George Brich, File)
___

AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr in Los Angeles and AP Drama Writer Mark Kennedy in New York contributed to this report.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Stray bag of toys prompts scare at Trump Tower

New York police officers and others stand outside the Trump Tower lobby in New York. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

Jennifer Peltz, Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — A stray backpack prompted the partial evacuation of Trump Tower on Tuesday, though bomb squad technicians quickly determined the unattended bag contained children's toys and was harmless.

Video posted online showed people running through the Manhattan skyscraper's public lobby as uniformed police officers waved them toward the exits.

Stephen Davis, the New York Police Department's top spokesman, said the bomb squad gave the "all clear" around 5 p.m. after examining the backpack left near the entrance to Niketown, a store in the building.

President-elect Donald Trump lives in the tower and has his offices there, though he was at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida when the bag was discovered.

His newly appointed press secretary, Sean Spicer, Tweeted that officials were "back to work" following the "false alarm."

Shoppers and visitors to Trump's namesake skyscraper described a chaotic scramble.

"It was hysteria," said Andy Martin, a 16-year-old from the New York City suburb of Huntington. "Police were shouting and telling people to leave."

Trump Tower, in addition to being the president-elect's home and business headquarters, contains residences, restaurants, retail stores — and a lobby that by law is open to the public to visitors daily from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Police receive about 42 reports every day of so-called suspicious packages, though that number can surge depending on current events. In the days after a pressure cooker bomb exploded earlier this year in New York City, police responded to more than 800 calls of "suspicious packages."

Maria Beckford, visiting New York from her native London, was in Niketown with her 13-year-old son looking to buy a pair of soccer cleats when she said they were told to urgently leave the store.

"We actually had them in his hands but because of everything we just had to leave," she said.

___

Associated Press writer Jake Pearson contributed to this report.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


A look at the 6 inmates on US military death row

In this April 6, 1988, file photo, Ronald Gray leaves a courtroom escorted by military police at Fort Bragg, N.C. (Marcus Castro/The Fayetteville Observer via AP, File)

A look at the six inmates on U.S. military death row at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. A federal judge in Kansas lifted a stay of execution for one of the inmates. The U.S. military carried out its last execution when it hanged Army Pvt. John Bennett in 1961 for raping and trying to kill an 11-year-old Austrian girl. The death chamber has since been remodeled for lethal injections.

RONALD A. GRAY

Gray was convicted and ordered condemned in military court in 1988 for two murders and three rapes in the Fayetteville, North Carolina, area while he was stationed at Fort Bragg, where he reached the rank of specialist and was a cook. He pleaded guilty in civilian courts to two other killings and five rapes and was sentenced to eight life terms, including three to be served one after the other. A federal judge in Kansas last week lifted a stay of execution for Gray.

DWIGHT LOVING

Loving, formerly of Rochester, New York, was convicted of killing Killeen, Texas, taxi drivers Bobby Sharbino and Christopher Fay during separate robberies on Dec. 11, 1988, while Loving was stationed at Fort Hood. In 1996, the U.S. Supreme Court, in an appeal by Loving, a former Army private, upheld the military death penalty, ruling that President Ronald Reagan in 1994 properly enacted a key section aimed at helping jurors decide who deserves capital punishment.

HASAN AKBAR

Akbar was condemned after being convicted of killing two fellow soldiers — Army Capt. Christopher S. Seifert and Air Force Maj. Gregory L. Stone — and injuring 14 others in an attack in Kuwait in 2003, during the early days of the Iraq war. In October, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Akbar's appeal, which focused on whether the way in which the armed forces imposes a death sentence complies with recent Supreme Court rulings.

NIDAL HASAN

Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, was convicted of killing 13 people and injuring 31 others in the 2009 attack at Fort Hood in Texas, where Hasan opened fire in a room of unarmed soldiers. During his 2013 trial, Hasan told jurors he had "switched sides" in what he called America's war with Islam. He admitted beginning the rampage by pulling out a pistol and shouting "Allahu akbar" (God is great) and said he wanted to stop American soldiers from being deployed to kill fellow Muslims. A Fort Hood police officer helped end the attack in a gunfight with Hasan.

ANDREW WITT

Witt was convicted in 2005 of fatally stabbing a fellow airman and his wife at their duplex at Robins Air Force Base in Georgia, as well as wounding a staff sergeant. Prosecutors said Witt killed Senior Airman Andrew Schliepsiek and his wife, Jamie, after they threatened to report he had made a pass at Jamie Schliepsiek and had an affair with an officer's wife. Witt's lawyers did not dispute that he stabbed the couple but contended that the killings were not planned. Officials said the killings were the first ever at the 60-year-old Air Force base in central Georgia.

TIMOTHY HENNIS

Hennis, a former Army master sergeant at North Carolina's Fort Bragg, was convicted during an April 2010 court-martial trial of killing a North Carolina mother and two of her daughters, ages 5 and 3, in 1985. Hennis was first convicted in state court of the killings, but that conviction was overturned on appeal and he was acquitted in a retrial in 1989. Hennis was living in Lakewood, Washington, when the Army brought him out of retirement for the court-martial nearly two decades after his acquittal. A four-judge Army appellate panel last month upheld Hennis' death sentence.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Indian police say 38 injured in train accident

LUCKNOW, India (AP) — Police say at least 38 people were injured when 14 coaches of a train derailed in northern India.

Superintendent of Police Prabhakar Chaudhary says the accident happened early Wednesday near Kanpur, a city in Uttar Pradesh state. The cause was not immediately known.

Ahmed Javed, the state's top police officer, said all of the passengers have been evacuated from the derailed coaches. Television images showed some coaches lying on their sides.

This is a second recent rail accident in the region. In November, 127 people were killed when several coaches of a passenger train slid off the track.

Accidents are relatively common in India's sprawling rail network. It is the world's third-largest but lacks modern signaling and communication systems. Most accidents are blamed on poor maintenance and human error.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Today in History - Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2016

The Associated Press

Today is Wednesday, Dec. 28, the 363rd day of 2016. There are three days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On Dec. 28, 1846, Iowa became the 29th state to be admitted to the Union.

On this date:

In 1612, Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei observed the planet Neptune, but mistook it for a star. (Neptune wasn't officially discovered until 1846 by Johann Gottfried Galle.)

In 1832, John C. Calhoun became the first vice president of the United States to resign, stepping down because of differences with President Andrew Jackson.

In 1856, the 28th president of the United States, Thomas Woodrow Wilson, was born in Staunton (STAN'-tun), Virginia.

In 1895, the Lumiere brothers, Auguste and Louis, held the first public showing of their movies in Paris.

In 1917, the New York Evening Mail published "A Neglected Anniversary," a facetious essay by H.L. Mencken supposedly recounting the history of bathtubs in America.

In 1937, composer Maurice Ravel died in Paris at age 62.

In 1945, Congress officially recognized the Pledge of Allegiance.

In 1961, the Tennessee Williams play "Night of the Iguana" opened on Broadway. Former first lady Edith Bolling Galt Wilson, the second wife of President Woodrow Wilson, died in Washington at age 89.

In 1973, the book "Gulag Archipelago," Alexander Solzhenitsyn's expose (eks-poh-SAY') of the Soviet prison system, was first published in Paris.

In 1981, Elizabeth Jordan Carr, the first American "test-tube" baby, was born in Norfolk, Virginia.

In 1989, Alexander Dubcek (DOOB'-chek), the former Czechoslovak Communist leader who was deposed in a Soviet-led Warsaw Pact invasion in 1968, was named president of the country's parliament.

In 1991, nine people died in a crush of people trying to get into a rap celebrity basketball game at City College in New York.

Ten years ago: President George W. Bush, at his Texas ranch, worked on designing a new U.S. policy in Iraq. Saddam Hussein's lawyer made a last-ditch effort to impede his client's execution. In Somalia, troops of the U.N.-backed interim government rolled into Mogadishu unopposed, putting an end to six months of domination of the capital by a radical Islamic movement.

Five years ago: North Korea's new leader, Kim Jong Un, escorted his father's hearse in an elaborate state funeral, bowing somberly and saluting in front of tens of thousands of citizens who wailed and stamped their feet in grief for Kim Jong Il. Turkish warplanes mistakenly killed 35 smugglers and other villagers in an operation targeting Kurdish rebels in Iraq. Kaye Stevens, a singer and actress who performed with the Rat Pack and was a frequent guest on Johnny Carson's "The Tonight Show," died in The Villages, Florida, at age 79.

One year ago: A grand jury in Cleveland declined to indict a white rookie police officer in the killing of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, a black youngster who was shot while playing with what turned out to be a pellet gun. A teen fugitive known for using an "affluenza" defense for a drunken driving wreck and his mother were detained in Puerto Vallarta (PWEHR'-toh vah-YAR'-tah), Mexico. Iraqi forces backed by U.S.-led airstrikes drove Islamic State militants out of the center of Ramadi and seized the main government complex there. Ian "Lemmy" Kilmister, 70, the singer and bassist who founded Motorhead in 1975, died in Los Angeles. Specials drummer John (Brad) Bradbury, 62, died in England.

Today's Birthdays: Comic book creator Stan Lee is 94. Former United Auto Workers union president Owen Bieber is 87. Actress Nichelle Nichols is 84. Actress Dame Maggie Smith is 82. Rock singer-musician Charles Neville is 78. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., is 72. Former Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., is 70. Rock singer-musician Edgar Winter is 70. Funk musician Joseph "Zigaboo" Modeliste (The Meters) is 68. Actor Denzel Washington is 62. Country singer Joe Diffie is 58. Country musician Mike McGuire (Shenandoah) is 58. Actor Chad McQueen is 56. Country singer-musician Marty Roe (Diamond Rio) is 56. Actor Malcolm Gets is 52. Actor Mauricio Mendoza is 47. Actress Elaine Hendrix is 46. Comedian Seth Meyers is 43. Actor Brendan Hines is 40. Actor Joe Manganiello is 40. Actress Vanessa Ferlito is 39. Rhythm-and-blues singer John Legend is 38. Actor Andre Holland is 37. Actress Sienna Miller is 35. Pop singer Kasey Sheridan (Dream) is 30. Actor Thomas Dekker is 29. Actress Mackenzie Rosman is 27. Pop singer David Archuleta is 26. Actor Miles Brown is 12.

Thought for Today: "If you don't know history, then you don't know anything. You are a leaf that doesn't know it is part of a tree." — Michael Crichton (KRY'-tuhn), American author (1942-2008).

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Reactions to the death of superstar singer George Michael

Tributes are left on the gate outside the home of British musician George Michael in London, Monday, Dec. 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)

In this July 2, 2005, file photo, George Michael, left, and Paul McCartney, right, perform during the Live 8 concert in Hyde Park, London.(AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — Reactions to the death of singer George Michael:
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"I have lost a beloved friend — the kindest, most generous soul and a brilliant artist. My heart goes out to his family and all of his fans." — Elton John, on Instagram.

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"Farewell My Friend! ... Another Great Artist leaves us." — Madonna, on Twitter.

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"George Michael's sweet soul music will live on even after his sudden death. Having worked with him on a number of occasions his great talent always shone through and his self deprecating sense of humour made the experience even more pleasurable." — Paul McCartney, on Instagram.

"Heartbroken at the loss of my beloved friend Yog. Me, his loved ones, his friends, the world of music, the world at large. 4ever loved. A xx" — Michael's Wham! groupmate Andrew Ridgeley, on Twitter. Yog stands for "Yours Only George."

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"Whenever an Artist dies, the world loses a bit of what makes us uniquely human. RIP George Michael (1963-2016)" — Neil deGrasse Tyson, on Twitter.

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"My heart, like yours, is broken. George Michael was a musical genius and I am so grateful to have known him. In a world that needs music more than ever, today it is less so." — Liza Minnelli, on Facebook.

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"I've loved George Michael for as long as I can remember. He was an absolute inspiration. Always ahead of his time." — James Corden, actor, comedian and host of Carpool Karaoke, on Twitter.

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"George Michael RIP. Your music lifted our spirits. Your heart was pure. Sad. You will be missed." — Goldie Hawn, on Twitter.

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"So sad about George Michael. Truly one of the greatest songwriters." — singer-songwriter Ellie Goulding, on Twitter.

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"Absolutely devastated to hear of the loss of @GeorgeMichael Truly brilliant talent #sad #sad #sad" — from Twitter account for Martin Fry of band ABC.

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"This is so crazy. I was just at his house the morning of the 23rd. So crazy." — producer-musician Nile Rodgers, on Twitter.

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"Can't believe George Michael has passed ... one of the greatest singers and writers the UK ever produced. I'm really saddened ... a lovely man." — singer Howard Jones, on Twitter.

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Other than a global pop phenom, George Michael was one of the true British soul greats. A lot of us owe him an unpayable debt. bye George xx" — producer-musician Mark Ronson, on Twitter.

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"I met George Michael a few times & he was ever a gentle, unassuming soul. A rare presence in a world full of self. Honest, genuine talent." — singer-songwriter Alison Moyet, on Twitter.

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"It's hard to take in. One of our most talented singer songwriters has left us. RIP George Michael. Such sad, tragic news. 2016 please end." — pop group Simply Red, on Twitter.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Air safety directive grounds some flights in Mexico

MEXICO CITY (AP) — The Mexican airline Interjet says it's had to cancel some flights due to a mandatory safety inspection of its Russian-made Superjet 100 aircraft.

Russian authorities issued the directive on Dec. 23 after cracks were found in a part on one of the Sukhoi planes. Interjet is among the largest customers for the relatively new Superjet, with more than 20 in its fleet.

Mexico's consumer protection agency says at least 25 flights and more than 680 passengers have been affected.

The consumer agency initially issued an erroneous communique confusing the Superjet with the Tupelov-154 model that crashed in the Black Sea on Sunday, killing 92 people. The Tupelov is a completely different, much older design made by another company.

Interjet's Sunday statement says its Superjets meet "the highest standards of security."

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Colombia probe finds human error, lack of fuel in air crash

In this Nov. 29, 2016 file photo, rescue workers recover a body from the wreckage site of the LaMia chartered airplane crash, in La Union, a mountainous area near Medellin, Colombia.(AP Photo/Fernando Vergara, File)

Alba Tobella, Associated Press
Cesar Garcia, Associated Press


BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — A series of human errors caused an airliner to run out of fuel and crash in Colombia last month, killing 71 people including most of a Brazilian soccer team, aviation authorities said on Monday.

Colombia's Civil Aeronautics agency concluded in its investigation that the plan for the flight operated by Bolivia-based charter company LaMia did not meet international standards. Among the errors made were the decisions to let the plane take off without enough fuel to make the flight safely and then to not stop midway to refuel. The pilot also did not report the plane's emergency until it was too late, it said.

Neither the company nor Bolivian authorities should have allowed the plane to take off with the flight plan submitted, said Freddy Bonilla, air safety secretary for Colombia's aviation authority. He said the agency's preliminary conclusions were based on the plane's black boxes and other evidence.

Experts had earlier suggested that fuel exhaustion was a likely cause of the Nov. 28 crash that wiped out all but a few members of the Chapocoense soccer team, as well as team officials and journalists accompanying them to a championship playoff match in Medellin, Colombia.

The BAE 146 Avro RJ85 has a maximum range was 2,965 kilometers (1,600 nautical miles) — just under the distance between Medellin and Santa Cruz, Bolivia, where the plane had taken off at almost full capacity.

The plane was in the air for about 4 hours and 20 minutes when air traffic controllers in Medellin put it into a holding pattern because another flight had reported a suspected fuel leak and was given priority.

Investigators found that crew members of the LaMia flight were aware of the lack of fuel but waited too long to report the emergency.

Bonilla said that during the flight the pilot and co-pilot are heard on "various occasions" talking about stopping in Leticia — a city near the borders separating Brazil, Peru and Colombia — to refuel but decided not to do so. When the plane entered Colombian airspace it was flying into a wind, which caused more fuel to be consumed.

And when the pilot asked for priority to land in Medellin, six minutes before crashing, the plane had already spent two minutes with a motor shut off, the investigation concluded. All the motors shut down minutes later.

In a recording of a radio message from the pilot, he can be heard repeatedly requesting permission to land due to a lack of fuel and a "total electric failure." A surviving flight attendant and a pilot flying nearby also overheard the frantic pleas from the doomed airliner.

In addition, there was no explosion upon impact, pointing to a scarcity of fuel.

Investigators in Colombia concluded that the plane did not have the fuel reserves required by international standards for such a flight. They said there was no evidence of sabotage or mechanical failure.

Authorities also detected an excess of baggage, but did not relate it to the accident, and, according to its plan, the flight was expected to reach 30,000 feet, an altitude the plane was not certified for.

Details of the complete report by Colombia's aviation agency will be released in April 2017. Bolivia, Brazil and the United Kingdom contributed to it.

Bolivia's government has already blamed the airline and its pilot for the accident.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Cancer patient donates year's worth of pizza to food bank

NORTHAMPTON, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania man going through treatment for colon cancer won a pizza parlor's raffle for a year's worth of free pies and then donated his prize to a food bank.

Thirty-six-year-old Josh Katrick, of Northampton, had just completed his eighth round of chemotherapy when he learned he was the winner of a contest sponsored by his favorite neighborhood restaurant.

After hearing of Katrick's plans to donate the pizza to the Northampton Food Bank, the owners of Mario's Pizza decided to double down and offer the prize to both him and the food bank.

Katrick says he's been getting so much from family, friends and strangers during the past few months that he wanted to give back to those who could use the pizza more.

Roughly 1,200 people entered the contest.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Today in History - Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2016

The Associated Press

Today is Tuesday, Dec. 27, the 362nd day of 2016. There are four days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On Dec. 27, 1904, James Barrie's play "Peter Pan: The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up" opened at the Duke of York's Theater in London.

On this date:

In 1831, naturalist Charles Darwin set out on a round-the-world voyage aboard the HMS Beagle.

In 1927, the musical play "Show Boat," with music by Jerome Kern and libretto by Oscar Hammerstein II, opened at the Ziegfeld Theater in New York.

In 1932, New York City's Radio City Music Hall first opened.

In 1945, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund were formally established.

In 1947, the original version of the puppet character Howdy Doody made his TV debut on NBC's "Puppet Playhouse."

In 1949, Queen Juliana of the Netherlands signed an act recognizing Indonesia's sovereignty after more than three centuries of Dutch rule.

In 1968, Apollo 8 and its three astronauts made a safe, nighttime splashdown in the Pacific.

In 1970, the musical play "Hello, Dolly!" closed on Broadway after a run of 2,844 performances.

In 1979, Soviet forces seized control of Afghanistan. President Hafizullah Amin (hah-FEE'-zoo-lah ah-MEEN'), who was overthrown and executed, was replaced by Babrak Karmal.

In 1985, Palestinian guerrillas opened fire inside the Rome and Vienna airports; 19 victims were killed, plus four attackers who were slain by police and security personnel. American naturalist Dian Fossey, 53, who had studied gorillas in the wild in Rwanda, was found hacked to death.

In 1995, Israeli jeeps sped out of the West Bank town of Ramallah, capping a seven-week pullout giving Yasser Arafat control over 90 percent of the West Bank's one million Palestinian residents and one-third of its land.

In 2007, opposition leader Benazir Bhutto (BEN'-uh-zeer BOO'-toh) was assassinated during a suicide bomb attack in Pakistan following a campaign rally.

Ten years ago: Saddam Hussein urged Iraqis to embrace "brotherly coexistence" and not to hate U.S.-led foreign troops in a goodbye letter posted on a website a day after Iraq's highest court upheld his death sentence. Former Democratic vice presidential nominee John Edwards jumped into the presidential race a day earlier than he'd planned after his campaign accidentally went live with his election website a day before his scheduled announcement.

Five years ago: Tens of thousands of defiant Syrian protesters thronged the streets of Homs, calling for the execution of President Bashar Assad shortly after his army pulled its tanks back and allowed Arab League monitors in for the first time to the city at the heart of the anti-government uprising. Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, a conservative Democrat, said he would retire from the Senate rather than seek a third term. Abstract expressionist painter Helen Frankenthaler, 83, known for her bold, lyrical use of color, died in Darien, Connecticut.

One year ago: British Prime Minister David Cameron sent hundreds more troops into northern England to help exhausted residents and emergency workers fight back rising river waters that had inundated towns and cities after weeks of heavy rain. Death claimed Harlem Globetrotter Meadowlark Lemon at age 83; baseball player Dave Henderson at age 57; cinematographer Haskell Wexler at age 93; painter-sculptor Ellsworth Kelly at age 92.

Today's Birthdays: Actor John Amos is 77. ABC News correspondent Cokie Roberts is 73. Rock musician Mick Jones (Foreigner) is 72. Singer Tracy Nelson is 72. Actor Gerard Depardieu is 68. Jazz singer-musician T.S. Monk is 67. Singer-songwriter Karla Bonoff is 65. Actress Tovah Feldshuh is 64. Rock musician David Knopfler (Dire Straits) is 64. Journalist-turned-politician Arthur Kent is 63. Actress Maryam D'Abo is 56. Country musician Jeff Bryant is 54. Actor Ian Gomez is 52. Actress Theresa Randle is 52. Actress Eva LaRue is 50. Wrestler and actor Bill Goldberg is 50. Actress Tracey Cherelle Jones is 47. Bluegrass singer-musician Darrin Vincent (Dailey & Vincent) is 47. Rock musician Guthrie Govan is 45. Musician Matt Slocum is 44. Actor Wilson Cruz is 43. Singer Olu is 43. Actor Masi Oka is 42. Actor Aaron Stanford is 40. Actress Emilie de Ravin is 35. Christian rock musician James Mead (Kutless) is 34. Rock singer Hayley Williams (Paramore) is 28. Country singer Shay Mooney (Dan & Shay) is 25.

Thought for Today: "I'm not young enough to know everything." — Sir James Matthew Barrie, Scottish dramatist-author (1860-1937).

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Queen Elizabeth II misses Christmas service due to illness

Britain's Prince Charles and Camilla, The Duchess of Cornwall lead other members of the Royal family as they arrive to attend a Christmas day church service in Sandringham, England, Sunday, Dec. 25, 2016.(AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

Kirsty Wigglesworth, Associated Press
Gregory Katz, Associated Press


SANDRINGHAM, England (AP) — A bad cold kept Queen Elizabeth II from attending the traditional Christmas morning church service near her Sandringham estate in rural Norfolk, England, raising some concerns about her health.

It's extremely rare for Elizabeth, now 90, to miss the service, which is a cornerstone of the royal family's Christmas celebrations and brings the monarch into contact with locals who gather outside for a glimpse of her.

"The Queen continues to recover from a heavy cold and will stay indoors to assist with her recovery," Buckingham Palace said. "Her Majesty will participate in the royal family Christmas celebrations during the day."

Those festivities included a gala lunch. In past years, the royal family would often go for extended walks in the countryside.

Elizabeth has been in generally good health and has maintained an active schedule in the last year despite traveling less often than in the past. Recently she stepped down as patron for about 20 charities and groups to lighten her work load.

Her husband, 95-year-old Prince Philip, has also cut back on his public schedule and his charitable works in the last few years. He was also suffering from a severe cold earlier in the week, the palace said.

Philip did attend the Sunday morning Christmas service, waving to well-wishers on his way out of the church in a car.

Prince Harry spent time talking to locals after the church service and stopped to pet a dog. There was no sign of his girlfriend, American actress Meghan Markle, who recently visited him in London.

Elizabeth and Philip were joined in Sandringham by other senior royals including Prince Charles. Prince William and his wife Kate, along with their two children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, were celebrating Christmas with Kate's parents at their home in Bucklebury, a village west of London.

The queen used her annual pre-recorded Christmas Day message to praise British Olympic and Paralympic athletes and others who inspired her. The traditional message of goodwill was televised throughout Britain and much of the Commonwealth.

The broadcast included video of her 90th birthday celebrations and a gigantic street party attended by charity workers from across Britain. The soft-spoken queen praised ordinary people for pitching in to do good works.

"To be inspirational, you don't have to save lives or win medals. I often draw strength from meeting ordinary people doing extraordinary things — volunteers, carers, community organizers and good neighbors. Unsung heroes whose quiet dedication makes them special," she said.

She also praised the charitable foundations started by Philip and Charles some 60 and 40 years ago, respectively.

Katz reported from London.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Russia examines all possible reasons for Black Sea jet crash

Candles are placed around a photo of the crashed Tu-154 in memory of victims of the crash.(AP Photo/Viktor Klyushin)

Vladimir Isachenkov, Associated Press
Veronika Silchenko, Associated Press

SOCHI, Russia (AP) — Backed by ships, helicopters and drones, Russian rescue teams searched Sunday for victims after a Russian plane carrying 92 people to Syria crashed into the Black Sea shortly after takeoff. Investigators said they were looking into every possible cause for the crash, including a terror attack.

All 84 passengers and eight crew members on the Russian military's Tu-154 plane are believed to have died when it crashed two minutes after taking off at 5:25 a.m. in good weather from the southern Russian city of Sochi. The passengers included dozens of singers in Russia's world-famous military choir.

More than 3,000 rescue workers on 32 ships — including over 100 divers flown in from across Russia — were searching the crash site at sea and along the shore, the Defense Ministry said. Helicopters, drones and submersibles were being used to help spot bodies and debris. Powerful spotlights were brought in so the operation could continue all night.

Emergency crews found fragments of the plane about 1.5 kilometers (1 mile) from shore. By Sunday evening, rescue teams had recovered 11 bodies and Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov said fragments of other bodies were also found.

Asked if a terror attack was a possibility, Sokolov said investigators were looking into every possible reason for the crash. Several experts noted factors that suggested a terror attack, such as the crew's failure to report any malfunction and the fact that plane debris was scattered over a wide area.

The plane was taking the Defense Ministry's choir, the Alexandrov Ensemble, to perform at a New Year's concert at Hemeimeem air base in Syria's coastal province of Latakia. Those on board also included nine Russian journalists and a Russian doctor famous for her work in war zones.

Russian President Vladimir Putin went on television to declare Monday a nationwide day of mourning.

"We will conduct a thorough investigation into the reasons and will do everything to support the victims' families," Putin said.

The Black Sea search area — which covered over 10 square kilometers (about 4 square miles) — was made more difficult by underwater currents that carried debris and body fragments into the open sea. Sokolov said the plane's flight recorders did not have radio beacons, so locating them on the seabed was going to be challenging.

The Tu-154 is a Soviet-built three-engine airliner designed in the late 1960s. More than 1,000 have been built, and they have been used extensively in Russia and worldwide. The plane that crashed Sunday was built in 1983, and underwent factory check-ups and maintenance in 2014 and this year, according to the Defense Ministry.

Magomed Tolboyev, a decorated Russian test pilot, said it was clear that all on board had died in the crash.

"There is no chance to survive in such situation," he said, according to the Interfax news agency.

Before Sokolov spoke to reporters in Sochi, senior Russian lawmakers had ruled out a terror attack, arguing that the military plane was under reliable protection. Security is particularly tight in Sochi, the Black Sea city that hosted the 2014 Winter Games and is regularly visited by Putin, who often receives foreign leaders at his residence there.

But some experts said the crew's failure to report a malfunction pointed at a possible terror attack.

"Possible malfunctions ... certainly wouldn't have prevented the crew from reporting them," Vitaly Andreyev, a former senior Russian air traffic controller, told RIA Novosti.

Vadim Lukashevich, an independent aviation expert, told Dozhd TV that the crew's failure to communicate an equipment failure and the large area over which the plane's fragments were scattered raises the possibility of an attack.

Alexander Gusak, a former chief of a SWAT team at the main domestic security agency, the FSB, told Dozhd that Russian airports are still vulnerable to terror threats despite security cordons.

"It's possible to penetrate them. It's a matter of skills," he said.

Russian planes have been brought down previously by terror attacks.

In October 2015, a Russian plane carrying mostly Russian tourists back from vacation in Egypt was brought down by a bomb over the Sinai Peninsula, killing all 224 people aboard. Officials said the explosive device was planted in the plane's luggage compartment. The local affiliate of the Islamic State group claimed responsibility.

In August 2004, two Russian planes were blown up in the skies over Russia on the same day by suicide bombers, killing 89 people. A Chechen warlord claimed responsibility.

In the last year, the Russian military has repeatedly flown Russian singers and artists to perform at Hemeimeem, the main hub for the Russian air campaign in Syria.

The passenger list released by the Defense Ministry included 64 members of the Alexandrov Ensemble, including its leader, Valery Khalilov. The ensemble is the official choir of the Russian military and also includes a band and a dance company. The choir sang "Get Lucky" at the opening of the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, becoming an online sensation.

The damage to the choir was reported to be devastating. Viktor Yeliseyev, head of the rival choir for the Russian National Guard, said "most singers of the choir have died."

Also on board was Yelizaveta Glinka, a Russian doctor who has won wide acclaim for her charity work, which has included missions to war zones in eastern Ukraine and Syria. Her foundation said Glinka was accompanying a medical shipment for a hospital in Syria.

"We never feel sure that we will come back alive," she said when Putin presented her with an award earlier this month. "But we are sure that kindness, compassion and charity are stronger than any weapon."

Syrian President Bashar Assad was among numerous foreign leaders who sent their condolences to Putin, saying he received news of the crash "with deep grief and sadness."

In recent years, Russian airlines have replaced their Tu-154s with more modern planes, but the military and other Russian government agencies have continued to use them. While noisy and fuel-guzzling, the plane is popular with crews that appreciate its maneuverability and ruggedness.

"It's an excellent plane, which has proven its reliability during decades of service," veteran pilot Oleg Smirnov said.

Still, since 1994, there's been 17 major plane crashes involving the Tu-154 that have killed over 1,760 people in all. Most resulted from human error.

In the latest previous deadly crash of a Tu-154, a plane carrying Polish President Lech Kaczynski and 95 others crashed in April 2010 while trying to land at a military airport in Smolensk in western Russia, killing everyone on board. Investigations by both Polish and Russian experts blamed pilot error in bad weather, but Polish authorities have launched a new probe.

Isachenkov reported from Moscow. Nataliya Vasilyeva in Moscow contributed to this report.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Massive WWII bomb is defused in German town of Augsburg

 

Policemen have blocked a road in Augsburg, Germany, Sunday, Dec. 25, 2016. (Tobias Hase/dpa via AP)

David McHugh, Associated Press

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Explosives experts on Sunday defused a large World War II aerial bomb in the southern German city of Augsburg — clearing the way for thousands of evacuated residents to return to their Christmas celebrations at home.

City police tweeted that they had "good news at Christmas" just before 7 p.m. local time Sunday. They had earlier been unable to say how long residents would have to stay away.

Some 32,000 households with 54,000 residents in the city's historic central district were forced to leave by 10 a.m. Christmas morning so experts could handle the bomb.

They had to clean seven decades of muck off the bomb so they could find and disable its three detonators. The munition's large size — 1.8 tons — suggested it was a so-called blockbuster of the type dropped by British forces, with the aim of blowing surrounding buildings apart so that accompanying incendiary bombs could start fires more easily.

The bomb was uncovered last week during construction work in the city's historic central district. Police said Christmas Day was the best time to defuse it because there was less traffic and it was more likely that people could stay with relatives.

Police rang doorbells and used vans with loudspeakers to urge procrastinators to leave ahead of a 10 a.m. deadline. Schools and sports facilities were opened as shelters but most people appeared to have left on Christmas Eve.

Finding World War II bombs is not unusual in Germany. Much of Augsburg's historic center was destroyed on Feb. 25-26, 1944, when hundreds of British and U.S. bombers attacked the city.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


British singer George Michael dead at age 53

In this Aug. 24, 2010, file photo, British singer George Michael leaves Highbury Corner Magistrates Court in north London. Michael pleaded guilty in a London court to two drug offenses.(AP Photo/Sang Tan, File)

In this July 13, 1985, file photo, from left, George Michael of Wham!, concert promoter Harvey Goldsmith, Bono of U2, Paul McCartney, concert organizer Bob Geldof and Freddie Mercury of Queen join in the finale of the Live Aid famine relief concert, at Wembley Stadium.(AP Photo/Joe Schaber, File)

George Michael 1993 (AP Photo/Alistair Grant)

Neksa Mumbi Moody, Associated Press
Gregory Katz, Associated Press

LONDON (AP) — George Michael, the British pop superstar who reached early fame with WHAM! and went on to a solo career lined with controversies and chart-topping hits that blended soul and dance music with daring social and personal commentary, has died, his publicist said Sunday. He was 53.

Michael died at his home in Goring, England. His publicist, Cindi Berger, said he had not been ill. Michael's manager, Michael Lippman, says the cause of death was heart failure. His family issued a statement through Thames Valley Police saying that he "passed away peacefully at home over the Christmas period.

"The family would ask that their privacy be respected at this difficult and emotional time. There will be no further comment at this stage."

Before Lippmann's announcement, police issued a statement calling the death "unexplained but not suspicious" and that "a post mortem will be undertaken in due course."

The loss of Michael continues a year of grief in the music industry, with David Bowie, Prince and Glenn Frey among those dying before age 70.

One of the giants of '80s and '90s music, and an early idol for the MTV generation, Michael enjoyed immense popularity from the start with hits such as "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go," ''Young Guns (Go For It)" and "Freedom." As a solo artist, he developed into a more serious singer and songwriter, lauded by critics for his powerful vocal and expressive range. He sold well over 100 million albums globally, earned numerous Grammy and American Music Awards, and recorded duets with Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Luciano Pavarotti and Elton John among others.

"I have lost a beloved friend — the kindest, most generous soul and a brilliant artist," Elton John wrote on Instagram.

He reached the very heights of success, but agonized over being a celebrity. He spoke of cutting back on tours and interviews and letting his work speak for itself. One aging superstar thought he was behaving like a fool: In a public letter dated Sept. 9, 1990, Frank Sinatra advised Michael to "loosen up" and "swing, man."

"The tragedy of fame is when no one shows up and you're singing to the cleaning lady in some empty joint that hasn't seen a paying customer since Saint Swithin's day," Sinatra wrote.

Michael, with tailored good looks and an easy stage manner, formed the duo WHAM! with his school friend Andrew Ridgeley in the early 1980s. Helped by MTV, founded around the same time, easily crossed the Atlantic to become popular in the United States with Michael, as lead singer, usually the focal point.

He started his solo career shortly before WHAM! split, with the release of the megahit single "Careless Whisper," making a seamless transition. Critics generally viewed his WHAM! songs as catchy but disposable pop and gave his solo efforts far higher marks.

Throughout his career, his drug use and taste for risky sex brought him into frequent brushes with the law, most famously in 1998 when he was arrested for public lewdness in Los Angeles. Yet, he managed to turn the incident into fodder for a popular song that poked fun at his behavior, and his acknowledgment of his homosexuality at that time made him even more popular with his fans.

His first solo album, 1987's "Faith," sold more 20 million copies, and he enjoyed several hit singles including the raunchy "I Want Your Sex," which was helped immeasurably by a provocative video that received wide air play on MTV.

The song was controversial not only because of its explicit nature, but also because it was seen as encouraging casual sex and promiscuity at a time when the AIDS epidemic was deepening. Michael and his management tried to tamp down this point of view by having the singer write "Explore Monogamy" on the leg and back of a model in the video.

At the time, Michael had not disclosed his homosexuality, and much of his chart success was based on his sex appeal to young women. His look was raw and provocative, with tight jeans, tight T-shirts, black leather jackets and designer stubble, and his videos pushed the accepted limits with many lingerie-clad models vying for Michael's attentions on screen.

But Michael's situation changed abruptly in 1998 when he was arrested for lewd conduct in a public toilet in Los Angeles after being spotted by a male undercover police officer.

The arrest received international media attention, and seemed for a brief time to jeopardize Michael's stature as a top recording artist.

But instead of making excuses for his behavior, he went on to release a single and video, "Outside," that made light of the charges against him and mocked the Los Angeles police who had arrested him.

Like all of his efforts at the time, it sold in prodigious numbers, helping him put the incident behind him. The arrest also prompted him to speak openly about his sexual orientation.

These years represented the height of Michael's commercial success, which at times was marred by a protracted legal dispute with his record company Sony.

He remained a strong musical force throughout his career, releasing dozens of records and touring to adoring crowds despite a growing number of run-ins with police, many of them stemming from a series of driving-under-the-influence-of-drugs incidents, including several crashes.

Michael was an acknowledged user of marijuana and prescription sedatives and several times was found slumped over his car's steering wheel after using both at the same time.

His driver's license was finally revoked for five years in 2010 after Michael drove his Land Rover into the side of a Snappy Snap photo shop with so much force that his vehicle dented the wall.

A passer-by remembering Michael's early career wrote the word WHAM on the spot his SUV had hit.

He was also arrested a second time in public toilets — this time in North London in 2008 for drug use, an incident that prompted him to apologize to his fans and promise to get his life in order.

He also offered an apology to "everybody else, just for boring them."

A year earlier, he had told a television interviewer that his problems stemmed from a self-destructive streak and his attention-seeking nature.

He said at a press conference in 2011 that he felt he had let young people down with his misbehavior and had made it easier for others to denigrate homosexuals.

Despite these personal setbacks, Michael's musical performances remained strong even as his material moved farther from the teen tunes that first brought him to stardom.

The Telegraph newspaper in 2011 described a London concert appearance as an impressive event, calling his voice, "A rich, soulful instrument, it's capable of serious emotional heft, expertly matching the confessional tone of his own material."

Michael, with strong Greek-Cypriot roots, was born Georgios Panayiotou in England. He and schoolmate Ridgeley formed a ska band called the Executive when they were just 16 before moving on to form WHAM!

"I wanted to be loved," said Michael of his start in the music field. "It was an ego satisfaction thing."

Michael was active in a number of charities and helped raise money to combat AIDS, help needy children and support gay rights. He had a long-term relationship with Kenny Goss, but announced onstage in August 2011 that the two had broken up

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Today in History - Monday, Dec. 26, 2016

The Associated Press

Today is Monday, Dec. 26, the 361st day of 2016. There are five days left in the year. The seven-day African-American holiday Kwanzaa begins today. This is Boxing Day.

Today's Highlight in History:

On Dec. 26, 1941, during World War II, Winston Churchill became the first British prime minister to address a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress. Churchill grimly warned that "many disappointments and unpleasant surprises await us," but also expressed faith that "the British and American peoples will, for their own safety and for the good of all, walk together in majesty, in justice and in peace."

On this date:

In 1776, British forces suffered a major defeat in the Battle of Trenton during the Revolutionary War.

In 1799, former President George Washington was eulogized by Col. Henry Lee as "first in war, first in peace and first in the hearts of his countrymen."

In 1865, James H. Nason of Franklin, Massachusetts, received a patent for "an improved coffee percolator."

In 1908, Jack Johnson became the first African-American boxer to win the world heavyweight championship as he defeated Canadian Tommy Burns in Sydney, Australia.

In 1944, during the World War II Battle of the Bulge, the embattled U.S. 101st Airborne Division in Bastogne, Belgium, was relieved by units of the 4th Armored Division. Tennessee Williams' play "The Glass Menagerie" was first performed at the Civic Theatre in Chicago.

In 1966, Kwanzaa was first celebrated.

In 1967, "Magical Mystery Tour," the Beatles' poorly received TV special, was broadcast (in black and white) on BBC1.

In 1972, the 33rd president of the United States, Harry S. Truman, died in Kansas City, Missouri, at age 88.

In 1980, Iranian television footage was broadcast in the United States, showing a dozen of the American hostages sending messages to their families.

In 1990, Nancy Cruzan, the young woman in an irreversible vegetative state whose case led to a U.S. Supreme Court decision on the right to die, died at a Missouri hospital.

In 1996, 6-year-old beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey was found beaten and strangled in the basement of her family's home in Boulder, Colorado. (To date, the slaying remains unsolved.)

In 2004, more than 230,000 people, mostly in southern Asia, were killed by a 100-foot-high tsunami triggered by a 9.1-magnitude earthquake beneath the Indian Ocean.

Ten years ago: Former President Gerald R. Ford died in Rancho Mirage, California, at age 93. Iraq's highest court rejected Saddam Hussein's appeal of his conviction and death sentence and said the former president should be hanged within 30 days. (Saddam was executed on Dec. 30, 2006, Iraq time.) A gasoline pipeline ruptured by thieves exploded in Lagos (LAY'-gohs), Nigeria, killing at least 260 people.

Five years ago: A heart surgeon from a Mayo Clinic in Florida flying across the northern corner of the state to retrieve a heart for transplant was killed with two other people when their helicopter crashed. A missing 9-year-old Indiana girl, Aliahna Maroney-Lemmon, was found dead, and the family friend who'd been watching her was charged with murder. (Michael Plumadore, who confessed to fatally bludgeoning and dismembering Aliahna, was later sentenced to life in prison.) Drew Brees set the NFL record for yards passing in a season, breaking a mark that Dan Marino had held since 1984, and the New Orleans Saints clinched the NFC South title with a 45-16 victory over the Atlanta Falcons.

One year ago: A new onslaught of tornadoes began erupting in the South; twisters ended up hitting parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Chicago police killed 19-year-old Quintonio LeGrier, a college student who an officer said was coming at him with a bat, and 55-year-old Bettie Jones, a neighbor who police said was shot accidentally. Basketball player Stephen Curry was named The Associated Press 2015 Male Athlete of the Year.

Today's Birthdays: Actor Donald Moffat is 86. Actor Caroll Spinney (Big Bird on TV's "Sesame Street") is 83. Rhythm-and-blues singer Abdul "Duke" Fakir (The Four Tops) is 81. Record producer Phil Spector is 77. "America's Most Wanted" host John Walsh is 71. Country musician Bob Carpenter (The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band) is 70. Funk musician George Porter Jr. (The Meters) is 69. Baseball Hall of Fame catcher Carlton Fisk is 69. Retired MLB All-Star Chris Chambliss is 68. Baseball Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith is 62. Former Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., is 61. Humorist David Sedaris is 60. Rock musician James Kottak (The Scorpions) is 54. Country musician Brian Westrum (Sons of the Desert) is 54. Rock musician Lars Ulrich (Metallica) is 53. Actress Nadia Dajani is 51. Rock musician J is 49. Country singer Audrey Wiggins is 49. Rock musician Peter Klett (Candlebox) is 47. Rock singer James Mercer (The Shins; Flake) is 46. Actor-singer Jared Leto is 45. Actress Kendra C. Johnson is 40. Rock singer Chris Daughtry is 37. Actress Beth Behrs is 31. Actor Kit Harington is 30. Actress Eden Sher is 25. Pop singer Jade Thirlwall (Little Mix Actor) is 24. Actor Zach Mills is 21.

Thought for Today: "The people can never understand why the President does not use his supposedly great power to make 'em behave. Well all the President is, is a glorified public relations man who spends his time flattering, kissing and kicking people to get them to do what they are supposed to do anyway." — President Harry S. Truman (1884-1972).

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Today in History - Sunday, Dec. 25, 2016

The Associated Press

Today is Sunday, Dec. 25, the 360th day of 2016. There are six days left in the year. This is Christmas Day.

Today's Highlight in History:

On Dec. 25, 1991, Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev went on television to announce his resignation as the eighth and final leader of a communist superpower that had already gone out of existence.

On this date:

In A.D. 336, the first known commemoration of Christmas on Dec. 25 took place in Rome.

In 1066, William the Conqueror was crowned King of England.

In 1776, Gen. George Washington and his troops crossed the Delaware River for a surprise attack against Hessian forces at Trenton, New Jersey.

In 1818, "Silent Night (Stille Nacht)" was publicly performed for the first time during the Christmas Midnight Mass at the Church of St. Nikolaus in Oberndorf, Austria.

In 1926, Hirohito became emperor of Japan, succeeding his father, Emperor Yoshihito.

In 1931, New York's Metropolitan Opera broadcast an entire live opera over radio for the first time: "Hansel and Gretel" by Engelbert Humperdinck.

In 1941, during World War II, Japan announced the surrender of the British-Canadian garrison at Hong Kong.

In 1946, comedian W.C. Fields died in Pasadena, California, at age 66.

In 1961, Pope John XXIII formally announced the upcoming convocation of the Second Vatican Council, which opened in Oct. 1962.

In 1977, comedian Sir Charles Chaplin died in Switzerland at age 88.

In 1989, ousted Romanian President Nicolae Ceausescu (chow-SHES'-koo) and his wife, Elena, were executed following a popular uprising. Former baseball manager Billy Martin, 61, died in a traffic accident near Binghamton, New York.

In 1990, the World Wide Web was born in Geneva, Switzerland, as computer scientists Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau (KAH'-yoh) created the world's first hyperlinked webpage.

Ten years ago: James Brown, the "Godfather of Soul," died in Atlanta at age 73. Pope Benedict XVI used his Christmas Day address to call for a peaceful resolution of conflicts worldwide and appeal for greater caring of the poor, the exploited and all who suffer.

Five years ago: Five members of a family — three children and their grandparents — died in a Christmas morning blaze in Stamford, Connecticut, that was blamed on burning embers in a trash can. A 56-year-old man dressed as Santa Claus shot and killed his estranged wife, their two teenage children and three other relatives at an apartment in Grapevine, Texas, before taking his own life. A suicide bombing of a Catholic church near Nigeria's capital left at least 44 people dead.

One year ago: President Barack Obama paid tribute to six U.S. service members killed in a suicide attack in Afghanistan on Dec. 21 as he delivered a Christmas Day gesture of gratitude to U.S. troops at Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe Bay. Pope Francis, in his Christmas Day greeting from the loggia of St. Peter's Basilica, encouraged U.N.-backed peace deals for Syria and Libya and praised those who welcomed migrants. Tennis star Serena Williams was named The Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year for the fourth time. Science-fiction writer George Clayton Johnson, 86, died in Los Angeles.

Today's Birthdays: Actor Dick Miller is 88. Author Anne Roiphe is 81. Actress Hanna Schygulla (SHEE'-goo-lah) is 73. Rhythm-and-blues singer John Edwards (The Spinners) is 72. Actor Gary Sandy is 71. Singer Jimmy Buffett is 70. Pro and College Football Hall-of-Famer Larry Csonka is 70. Country singer Barbara Mandrell is 68. Actress Sissy Spacek is 67. Former White House adviser Karl Rove is 66. Actress CCH Pounder is 64. Singer Annie Lennox is 62. Reggae singer-musician Robin Campbell (UB40) is 62. Country singer Steve Wariner is 62. Singer Shane MacGowan (The Pogues, The Popes) is 59. Baseball Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson is 58. The former Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, Christina Romer, is 58. Actress Klea Scott is 48. Rock musician Noel Hogan (The Cranberries) is 45. Singer Dido is 45. Rock singer Mac Powell (Third Day) is 44. Rhythm-and-blues singer Ryan Shaw is 36. Country singer Alecia Elliott is 34. Pop singers Lisa and Jess Origliasso (The Veronicas) are 32.

Thought for Today: "My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others. Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that?" — Bob Hope (1903-2003).

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


A&E changes documentary series title to 'Escaping the KKK'

Peace activist Arno Michaelis, left, speaks with Chris Buckley, the Grand Knighthawk for the North Georgia White Knights, on A&E's documentary series “Generation KKK,” which premiers on January 10 at 10 p.m. ET/PT. (TIJAT/A&E via AP)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A&E is changing the name of its eight-part documentary series about the Ku Klux Klan.

The network says the series will now be called "Escaping the KKK: A Documentary Series Exposing Hate in America," not "Generation KKK" as announced earlier this week.

A&E said in a statement Friday that the change was needed to "ensure that no one can mistake its intent and that the title alone does not serve to normalize the Klan."

The network also said civil rights organizations including the Anti-Defamation League and Color of Change will create educational curricula and other materials to help contextualize the show's content.

"Escaping the KKK" follows individuals and families trying to extract themselves from the racist and anti-Semitic hate group.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


FDA OKs first treatment for rare genetic disorder

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Food and Drug Administration on Friday approved the first treatment for children and adults with spinal muscular atrophy, a rare genetic disorder marked by progressive muscle weakness that's the most common genetic cause of death in infants.

The agency that it approved the drug, Spinraza, after granting it fast-track status. It was developed by Ionis Pharmaceuticals Inc. of Carlsbad, California, and Biogen Inc. of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Biogen will market it.

The organization Cure SMA says spinal muscular atrophy affects about 1 in 10,000 babies, and about 1 in every 50 Americans is a genetic carrier. The FDA noted the disorder, which affects the motor nerve cells in the spinal cord, can impact people of any age. Its symptoms and rate of progression also vary.

Spinraza is injected into the fluid surrounding the spinal cord. Biogen said that in a clinical study, the drug brought about "meaningful improvement in motor function compared to untreated study participants."

With the FDA approval, Ionis will receive a $60 million milestone payment. It's also in line for royalties on Spinraza sales. It shares rose $3.69, or 7 percent, to $57.10 in after-market trading following the announcement of the drug's approval.

Biogen rose $9.47, or 3.3 percent, to $297.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Berlin attack suspect slain in shootout with Italian police

Italian Police cordon off an area after a shootout between police and a man near a train station in Milan's Sesto San Giovanni neighborhood, Italy, early Friday, Dec. 23, 2016.(AP Photo/Daniele Bennati)

Colleen Barry, Associated Press
Frank Jordans, Associated Press


MILAN (AP) — A routine request for ID papers outside a deserted train station in a Milan suburb at 3 a.m. Friday led to a police shootout that killed the Tunisian fugitive wanted in the deadly Christmas market attack in Berlin.

While authorities expressed relief that the search for Anis Amri was over, his four-day run raised fresh questions about whether he had any accomplices and how Europe can stop extremists from moving freely across its open borders, even amid an intense manhunt.

Italian police said Amri traveled from Germany through France and into Italy after Monday night's truck rampage in Berlin, and at least some of his journey was by rail. French officials refused to comment on his passage through France, which has increased surveillance on trains after recent attacks in France and Germany.

Italian Premier Paolo Gentiloni called for greater cross-border police cooperation, suggesting some dismay that Europe's open frontier policy had enabled Amri to move around easily despite being its No. 1 fugitive.

Amri, whose fingerprints and wallet were found in the truck that plowed into Christmas market outside Berlin's Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, killing 12 people and injuring 56 others, was caught seemingly by chance after eluding police for more than three days.

"He was a ghost," Milan police chief Antoio de Iesu said, adding that Amri was stopped because of basic police work, intensified surveillance "and a little luck."

Like other cities, Milan has been on heightened alert, with increased surveillance and police patrols. Italian officials stressed that the two young officers who stopped Amri didn't suspect he was the Berlin attacker, but rather grew suspicious because he was a North African man, alone outside a deserted train station in the dead of night.

Amri, who had spent time in prison in Italy, was confronted by the officers in Sesto San Giovanni, a suburb of Milan. He pulled a gun from his backpack after being asked to show his ID and was killed in an ensuing shootout.

One of the officers, Christian Movio, 35, was shot in the right shoulder and had surgery for what doctors said was a superficial wound. His 29-year-old partner, Luca Scata, fatally shot Amri in the chest.

The suspect had no ID or cellphone and carried only a pocket knife and the loaded .22-caliber pistol he used to shoot Movio, police said. He was identified with the help of fingerprints supplied by Germany.

The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for Monday's attack. On Friday, it noted his death in Milan and released a separate video showing Amri swearing allegiance to the group's leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, while vowing to fight non-Muslims.

The video, which appeared to have been taken by Amri himself, showed him on a footbridge in northern Berlin, not far from where the truck used in the attack was hijacked. It was not known when the video was taken.

German authorities were suspicious of Amri and had put him under covert surveillance for six months following a warning from intelligence agencies that he might be planning an attack. But the surveillance ended in September after police found no proof of his alleged plans.

Separately, German authorities tried to deport Amri after his asylum application was rejected in July but were unable to do so because he lacked valid identity papers, and Tunisia initially denied that he was a citizen. Authorities said he has used at least six different names and three nationalities.

Even as she voiced relief at the news from Milan, German Chancellor Angela Merkel ordered a comprehensive investigation to determine whether mistakes had been made and legal hurdles had hampered the authorities' handling of the case.

"We can be relieved at the end of this week that one acute danger has been ended," she said in Berlin. "But the danger of terrorism as a whole remains, as it has for many years — we all know that."

Amri passed through France before arriving by train at Milan's central station where video surveillance showed him at about 1 a.m. Friday, de Iesu said.

A Milan anti-terrorism official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk publicly about the investigation, said Amri made his way to the piazza outside the Sesto San Giovanni train station that is 7.5 kilometers (nearly 5 miles) from the main station.

Authorities are still trying to determine how Amri arrived at the piazza because only a few buses operate at that hour.

"It is now of great significance for us to establish whether the suspect had a network of supporters or helpers in preparing and carrying out the crime, and in fleeing, whether there were accessories or helpers," said Germany's chief federal prosecutor, Peter Frank, who heads the investigation.

Holger Muench, the head of the Federal Criminal Police Office said Amri's name "has come up in the past" in connection with the network centering allegedly run by Ahmad Abdulaziz Abdullah A., also known as Abu Walaa.

The Germany-based preacher was arrested Nov. 8 with four other men and accused of leading a group whose aim was to steer people to the Islamic State group in Syria. Prosecutors say the network smuggled at least one young man and his family to Syria.

Family members in Amri's central Tunisian hometown of Oueslatia said he wasn't particularly religious before leaving for Europe in the wake of the 2011 Arab Spring.

In Italy, where Amri first lived, he served 3ฝ years in jail for setting a fire at a refugee center and making threats, among other things — but authorities apparently detected no signs of radicalization. He was transferred repeatedly among Sicilian prisons for bad conduct, with records saying he bullied inmates and tried to spark insurrections.

After learning of his death, Amri's mother said she feared the world would never know why he allegedly rammed a truck through a holiday crowd.

"Within him is a great secret. They killed him, and buried the secret with him," Nour El Houda Hassani told The Associated Press. She begged for his remains to be brought home, and said, "I want the truth about my son — who was behind him, those who indoctrinated him."

Under pressure to show that her government is taking seriously the threat posed by young extremists who, like Amri, slipped into Germany along with an influx of migrants in the past two years, Merkel said her country would step up the deportation of Tunisians who aren't entitled to residency in Germany.

Last year, Germany deported just 17 to Tunisia. That figure increased to 117 so far this year.

Associated Press writer Colleen Barry reported this story in Milan and AP writer Frank Jordans reported from Berlin. AP writers Geir Moulson in Berlin, Nicole Winfield in Rome, Angela Charlton in Paris and Bouazza ben Bouazza in Tunis, Tunisia, contributed to this report.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Carrie Fisher remains in intensive care unit, brother says

Carrie Fisher presents the life achievement award on stage at the 21st annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles January 2015.(Photo by Vince Bucci/Invision/AP, File)

Sandy Cohen, AP Entertainment Writer

LOS ANGELES (AP) — "Star Wars" actress Carrie Fisher is receiving treatment in an intensive care unit after suffering a medical emergency on a flight Friday, according to her brother.

Todd Fisher said Friday night that his sister is receiving excellent care, but that he could not classify her condition. He had earlier told The Associated Press that she had been stabilized and was out of the emergency room. In a subsequent interview he said many details about her condition or what caused the medical emergency are unknown.

Carrie Fisher, 60, experienced medical trouble during a flight from London and was treated by paramedics immediately after the plane landed in Los Angeles, according to reports citing unnamed sources.

Celebrity website TMZ, which first reported the incident, said anonymous sources told them the actress suffered a heart attack.

Todd Fisher said much of what had been reported about the incident was speculation.

"We have to wait and be patient," he said. "We have so little information ourselves."

Fisher's publicists and representatives for her mother, Debbie Reynolds, and her daughter, Billie Lourd, did not immediately return calls from the AP.

Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Erik Scott said paramedics administered advanced life-saving care to a patient at Los Angeles International Airport Friday and transported the person to a nearby hospital. He did not identify the patient.

Fisher is considered by many to be a member of Hollywood royalty — her parents are Reynolds and the late singer Eddie Fisher.

Catapulted to stardom as Princess Leia in 1977's "Star Wars," Carrie Fisher reprised the role as the leader of a galactic rebellion in three sequels, including last year's "Star Wars: The Force Awakens."

The author and actress may be best known for her portrayal of Leia, but she is also an accomplished writer known for no-holds-barred accounts of her struggles with addiction and mental illness.

Her thinly veiled autobiography "Postcards from the Edge" was adapted into a 1987 film version starring Shirley MacLaine and Meryl Streep. She also transformed her one-woman show "Wishful Drinking," which played on Broadway and was filmed for HBO, into a book.

Most recently, Fisher has been promoting her latest book, "The Princess Diarist," in which she reveals that she and co-star Harrison Ford had an affair on the set of "Star Wars."

___

AP Entertainment Writer Anthony McCartney contributed to this report.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Today in History - Saturday, Dec. 24, 2016

The Associated Press

Today is Saturday, Dec. 24, the 359th day of 2016. There are seven days left in the year. This is Christmas Eve; the Jewish Festival of Lights, Hanukkah, begins at sunset.

Today's Highlight in History:

On Dec. 24, 1906, Canadian physicist Reginald A. Fessenden became the first person to transmit the human voice (his own) as well as music over radio, from Brant Rock, Massachusetts.

On this date:

In 1814, the United States and Britain signed the Treaty of Ghent, which ended the War of 1812 following ratification by both the British Parliament and the U.S. Senate.

In 1851, fire devastated the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., destroying about 35,000 volumes.

In 1865, several veterans of the Confederate Army formed a private social club in Pulaski, Tennessee, that was the original version of the Ku Klux Klan.

In 1871, Giuseppe Verdi's opera "Aida" had its world premiere in Cairo, Egypt.

In 1914, during World War I, impromptu Christmas truces began to take hold along parts of the Western Front between British and German soldiers.

In 1939, Pope Pius XII delivered a Christmas Eve address in which he offered a five-point program for peace and denounced "premeditated aggressions."

In 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower supreme commander of Allied forces in Europe as part of Operation Overlord.

In 1951, Gian Carlo Menotti's "Amahl and the Night Visitors," the first opera written specifically for television, was first broadcast by NBC-TV.

In 1968, the Apollo 8 astronauts, orbiting the moon, read passages from the Old Testament Book of Genesis during a Christmas Eve telecast.

In 1974, Cyclone Tracy began battering the Australian city of Darwin, resulting in widespread damage and causing some 65 deaths.

In 1980, Americans remembered the U.S. hostages in Iran by burning candles or shining lights for 417 seconds — one second for each day of captivity.

In 1995, fire broke out at the Philadelphia Zoo, killing 23 rare gorillas, orangutans, gibbons and lemurs.

Ten years ago: Ethiopia sent fighter jets into Somalia and bombed several towns in a dramatic attack on Somalia's powerful Islamic movement; Ethiopia's prime minister said his country had been "forced to enter a war." Broadcasting pioneer Frank Stanton, CBS president for 26 years, died in Boston at age 98.

Five years ago: In a setback, Republican presidential hopefuls Newt Gingrich and Texas Gov. Rick Perry failed to qualify for Virginia's Super Tuesday primary ballot by falling short of the 10,000 signatures required. Troops commanded by relatives of Yemen's outgoing president, Ali Abdullah Saleh (AH'-lee ahb-DUH'-luh sah-LEH'), attacked a crowd of more than 100,000 peaceful protesters, killing at least nine and driving Saleh to promise to leave the country. Pope Benedict XVI decried the increasing commercialization of Christmas as he celebrated Christmas Eve Mass.

One year ago: Christian faithful from around the world descended on the biblical city of Bethlehem for Christmas Eve celebrations as an outburst of Israeli-Palestinian violence dampened the typically festive mood. California Gov. Jerry Brown pardoned actor Robert Downey Jr. for a nearly 20-year-old felony drug conviction that sent the Oscar-nominated actor to jail for nearly a year. William Guest, 74, a member of Gladys Knight and the Pips, died in Detroit.

Today's Birthdays: Songwriter-bandleader Dave Bartholomew is 98. Author Mary Higgins Clark is 89. Federal health official Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., is 76. Recording company executive Mike Curb is 72. Actress Sharon Farrell is 70. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., is 70. Actor Grand L. Bush is 61. Actor Clarence Gilyard is 61. Actress Stephanie Hodge is 60. The former president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai (HAH'-mihd KAHR'-zeye), is 59. Rock musician Ian Burden (The Human League) is 59. Actor Anil Kapoor (ah-NEEL' kuh-POOR') is 57. Actress Eva Tamargo is 56. Actor Wade Williams is 55. Designer Kate Spade is 54. Rock singer Mary Ramsey (10,000 Maniacs) is 53. Actor Mark Valley is 52. Actor Diedrich Bader is 50. Actor Amaury Nolasco is 46. Singer Ricky Martin is 45. Author Stephenie Meyer is 43. Former "American Idol" host Ryan Seacrest is 42. Actor Michael Raymond-James is 39. Rock singer Louis Tomlinson (One Direction) is 25.

Thought for Today: "Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful." — The Rev. Norman Vincent Peale (born 1898, died this day in 1993).

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Final test results confirm Ebola vaccine highly effective

Medical personnel at the emergency entrance of a hospital wait to receive suspected Ebola virus patients in Conakry, Guinea.(AP Photo/Youssouf Bah, File)

Jamey Keaten, Associated Press

GENEVA (AP) — Final test results confirm an experimental Ebola vaccine is highly effective, a major milestone that could help prevent the spread of outbreaks like the one that killed thousands in West Africa.

Scientists have struggled to develop an Ebola vaccine over the years, and this is the first one proven to work. Efforts were ramped up after the infectious disease caused a major outbreak, beginning in 2013 in Guinea and spreading to Liberia and Sierra Leone. About 11,300 people died.

The World Health Organization, which acknowledged shortcomings in its response to the West Africa outbreak, led the study of the vaccine, which was developed by the Canadian government and is now licensed to the U.S.-based Merck & Co. Results were published Thursday.

Merck is expected to seek regulatory approval in the U.S. and Europe sometime next year.

The experimental vaccine was given to about 5,800 people last year in Guinea, as the virus was waning. All had some contact with a new Ebola patient. They got the vaccine right away or three weeks later. After a 10-day waiting period, no Ebola cases developed in those immediately vaccinated, 23 cases turned up among those with delayed vaccination.

The Lancet paper published Thursday mostly crystallizes what was already largely known from interim results released last year. The vaccine proved so effective that the study was stopped midway so that everyone exposed to Ebola in Guinea could be immunized.

"I really believe that now we have a tool which would allow (us) to control a new outbreak of Ebola of the Zaire strain," said Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny, a WHO assistant director-general who was the study's lead author. "It's the first vaccine for which efficacy has been shown."

She noted that other Ebola vaccines are underdoing testing, and that a vaccine is also needed to protect against a second strain, Sudan.

The virus first turned up in Africa in 1976 and had caused periodic outbreaks mostly in central Africa, but never with results as deadly as the West Africa outbreak. Many previous vaccine attempts have failed. Among the hurdles: the sporadic nature of outbreaks and funding shortages.

___

Online:

WHO: http://www.who.int/csr/disease/ebola/en/

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Australia police: Christmas Day bomb plot foiled, 5 detained

Police accompany a woman as they attend the scene where a house was raided at Meadow Heights in Melbourne, Australia, Friday, Dec. 23, 2016. (Julian Smith/AAP Image via AP)

Rod McGuirk, Associated Press

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Police in Australia have detained five men suspected of planning a series of Christmas Day bomb attacks in the heart of the country's second-largest city, officials said Friday.

The suspects had been inspired by the Islamic State group and planned attacks on Melbourne's Flinders Street train station, neighboring Federation Square and St. Paul's Cathedral, Victoria state Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton said.

The arrests came after a truck smashed into a Christmas market in Berlin on Monday, killing 12 people. A manhunt is underway for the person behind that attack, which prompted increases in security around the world.

Two of seven people initially arrested in raids Thursday night and Friday morning in Melbourne — a 26-year-old man and a 20-year-old woman — were released without being charged, police said.

Five men between the ages 21 and 26 remained in custody and would be charged later Friday with preparing a terrorist attack. They were not identified but police said four were born in Australia and the fifth was Egyptian-born with Egyptian and Australian citizenship.

Police had been watching the alleged plotters for some time, and believed they were preparing to use explosives, knives and a gun, Ashton said.

Police believed the threat had been neutralized through the raids on five Melbourne premises, he said.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said: "This is one of the most substantial terrorist plots that have been disrupted over the last several years."

"Islamist terrorism is a global challenge that affects us all. But we must not be cowed by the terrorists," Turnbull told reporter.

"We will continue to go about our lives as we always have. What these criminals seek to do is to kill. But they also seek to frighten us, to cow us into abandoning our Australian way of life. They want to frighten Australians. They want to divide Australians. They want us to turn on each other. We will not let them succeed," he added.

Since Australia's terrorist threat level was elevated in September 2014, the government says there have been four extremist attacks and 12 plots foiled by police.

Australian Federal Police Commissioner Andrew Colvin said the plotters had moved very quickly from a plan to develop a capability to attack.

"In terms of events that we have seen over the past few years in Australia, this certainly concerns me more than any other event that I've seen," Colvin said.

"We believe that we have removed the bulk of this particular cell, this group," he said.

Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews said there will be extra police on the streets of Melbourne on Christmas Day to make the public feel safe.

About 400 police officers were involved in the raids.

Ashton described those arrested as "self-radicalized" and inspired by Islamic State propaganda.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


China says it will cooperate with Trump but warns on Taiwan

In this photo taken Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016, a front page of a Chinese newspaper with a photo of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and the headline "Outsider counter attack" is displayed at a newsstand in Beijing, China. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

Gerry Shih, Associated Press

BEIJING (AP)
— China has warned that ties with the U.S. will likely see new complications and the only way to maintain a stable relationship is by respecting each other's "core interests."

Foreign Minister Wang Yi's remarks Thursday appeared to underscore that China's position on Taiwan is non-negotiable, weeks after President-elect Donald Trump suggested he could re-evaluate U.S. policy on Taiwan. It also mirrored Beijing's relatively measured posture toward the incoming U.S. administration despite signs of growing wariness.

Wang told the Communist Party mouthpiece, the People's Daily, that China will strive to boost cooperation with the U.S. but he foresaw "new, complicated and uncertain factors affecting bilateral relations" under the Trump administration.

China complained this month after Trump questioned a U.S. policy that since 1979 has recognized Beijing as China's government and maintains only unofficial relations with Taiwan. Beijing regards the self-governing island as part of China and has long used the "core interest" formulation to signal that any move by Taiwan toward formal independence could be met with military force.

Trump's comments on Taiwan, combined with his accusations that China is manipulating its currency and threats of imposing hefty tariffs against Chinese imports, have rattled relations between the world's two largest economies.

Trump also accepted a Dec. 2 phone call from Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, the first time an American president or president-elect has publicly spoken to Taiwan's leader since 1979.

Tsai is planning to transit through the United States next month as part of a visit to Taiwan's diplomatic allies in Central America, according to Taiwanese media reports Thursday. The reports cite Taiwan's Deputy Foreign Minister Javier Hou as saying Tsai's team will try to arrange meetings with U.S. senators or representatives. The reports did not say whether she will meet Trump or anyone from his transition team.

China has in recent days urged the U.S. not to allow Tsai to transit through the U.S. and to "refrain from sending any wrong signal to the Taiwanese independence forces." U.S. lawmakers often meet with Taiwanese presidents when they transit through the U.S. — most recently in June, when Tsai met in Miami with Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.

Trump's transition team announced Wednesday that Peter Navarro, who has accused China of effectively waging economic war against the United States, would head a trade policy council inside the White House.

Asked by reporters about Trump's appointment of an economist and author whose books include "Death by China," foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Beijing has been observing the incoming U.S. administration's transition and its policy direction.

"As two major powers with broad mutual interests, cooperation is the only correct choice," Hua said without naming Trump or Navarro.

Although Navarro — and Trump — have been heavily criticized in the Chinese press, including state media, Beijing has largely measured its official response to potential flashpoints. This week, China's military returned a U.S. underwater drone in the South China Sea that Trump had described as "stolen" on Twitter.

In the People's Daily interview, Wang said U.S.-China relations are generally trending toward stable cooperation and mutual benefit. He quoted a Chinese poem — previously cited by President Xi Jinping as a metaphor for U.S.-China ties — depicting a river that flows inevitably, regardless of mountainous obstacles.

"This is a historical trend that cannot be changed by an individual's will," Wang said.

After what he described as a turbulent year steered by the trend of "reverse globalization" and punctuated by terror attacks, Wang said China is now a mature nation that could act as a "stabilizer" in global affairs.

China under Xi is adopting an assertive leadership role on the world stage, Wang said, such as hosting the G20 summit and heading discussions at the APEC forum in Peru.

"The world is choosing between openness and conservatism, cooperation and closure, transformation and old ways," Wang said. "We will lead the way amid a shake-up in global governance, we will take hold of the situation amid international chaos, we will protect our interests amid intense and complex games."

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Happy birthday to Colo: Oldest gorilla in US turns 60

Colo, the nation's oldest living gorilla, sits inside of her enclosure during her 60th birthday party at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Thursday, Dec. 22, 2016 in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Ty Wright)

Andrew Welsh-Huggins, Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — She is a mother of three, grandmother of 16, great-grandmother of 12 and great-great-grandmother of three. She recently had surgery to remove a malignant tumor, but doctors say she's doing well.

She's Colo, the nation's oldest living gorilla, and she turned 60 on Thursday at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.

Colo was the first gorilla in the world born in a zoo and has surpassed the usual life expectancy of captive gorillas by two decades. Her longevity is putting a spotlight on the medical care, nutrition and up-to-date therapeutic techniques that are helping lengthen zoo animals' lives.

"Colo just epitomizes the advances that zoos have made, going all the way back to her birth at Columbus," said Dr. Tom Meehan, vice president for veterinary services at Chicago's Brookfield Zoo and veterinary adviser to a national gorilla species survival plan.

The changes also mean more animals living with the normal aches and pains of growing older. Today, zoo veterinarians regularly treat animals for heart and kidney disease, arthritis, dental problems and cancer.

Hundreds of people gathered at the zoo Thursday to see Colo, singing "Happy Birthday" moments before the gorilla ambled into an enclosure decorated with multicolored construction paper chains and filled with cakes such as squash and beet and cornbread with mashed potato parsley frosting.

Among the first in line was Pam Schlereth of Columbus, who at 63 was just a little girl when her father brought her to see the newborn Colo in a gorilla incubator in 1956.

"It's a tribute to the zoo that she's alive at 60 years old," Schlereth said.

Colo represents so much to the zoo, Tom Stalf, president of the zoo, told the crowd. "It's all about connecting people and wildlife," he said.

Colo is one of several elderly gorillas around the country. The oldest known living male gorilla, Ozzie, is 55 years old and lives at the Atlanta Zoo, which has a geriatric gorilla specialty.

At Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo, staff members use acupuncture, massage, laser therapy, and heat and joint supplements to help Emma, a 13-year-old rabbit.

At the National Zoo in Washington, Shanthi, a 42-year-old Asian elephant with arthritis, receives osteoarthritis therapy and was recently fitted with specially crafted front foot boots to help her feet heal as medications are applied.

In Oakland, California, Tiki, a 27-year-old giraffe and one of the oldest in the nation, gets foot care, massage therapy, acupuncture and chiropractic care, along with traditional veterinary medicine. Gao Gao, a 26-year-old male panda at the San Diego Zoo with a heart condition, periodically undergoes cardiac ultrasounds.

"Geriatrics is probably one of our most common medical challenges that we face in a zoo situation," said Dr. Keith Hinshaw, director of animal health at the Philadelphia Zoo. "So pretty much anything that you could imagine would happen with an older person is going to happen eventually with any animal."

That's up to and including medication: JJ, a 45-year-old orangutan at the Toledo Zoo, is on the human heart medicines carvedilol and Lisinopril, along with pain and orthopedic medications. He also takes Metamucil.

Colo, a western lowland gorilla, holds several other records. On her 56th birthday in 2012, she exceeded the record for longest-lived gorilla. On Thursday, she surpasses the median life expectancy for female gorillas in human care (37.5 years) by more than two decades.

Other age-defying zoo animals:

___

POLAR BEAR

Coldilocks, a 36-year-old polar bear at the Philadelphia Zoo and considered the oldest polar bear in the U.S. The bears' typical lifespan in captivity is 23 years. The zoo says treating her early for kidney disease appears to have helped prolong her life.

___

RHINO

Elly, an eastern black rhino at the San Francisco Zoo estimated to be 46 years old, is the oldest of her species in North America. She has had 14 calves, and her offspring have produced 15 grandchildren, 6 great-grandchildren and 1 great-great-grandchild.

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ELEPHANT

Packy, an Asian elephant at the Oregon Zoo, and at 54, the oldest male of his species in North America. The zoo says Packy, born in 1962, became the first elephant to be born in the Western Hemisphere in 44 years.

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MONKEY

Nikko, a 33-year-old snow monkey at the Minnesota Zoo, the oldest male snow monkey in North America.

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CHIMPANZEE

Little Mama, a chimpanzee living at Lion Country Safari in Loxahatchee, Florida, with an estimated age in her late 70s. She takes allergy medicine, iron supplements and omega 3 multivitamins, and has been trained to accept a nebulizer treatment for coughing.

___

TORTOISE

Emerson, a Galapagos tortoise at the Toledo Zoo in Ohio, whose age is estimated at about 100.

___

Andrew Welsh-Huggins can be reached on Twitter at https://twitter.com/awhcolumbus. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/andrew-welsh-huggins

___

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Today in History - Friday, Dec. 23, 2016

The Associated Press

Today is Friday, Dec. 23, the 358th day of 2016. There are eight days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On Dec. 23, 1941, during World War II, American forces on Wake Island surrendered to the Japanese.

On this date:

In 1788, Maryland passed an act to cede an area "not exceeding ten miles square" for the seat of the national government; about 2/3 of the area became the District of Columbia.

In 1823, the poem "Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas" was published in the Troy (New York) Sentinel; the verse, more popularly known as "'Twas the Night Before Christmas," was later attributed to Clement C. Moore.

In 1893, the Engelbert Humperdinck opera "Haensel und Gretel" was first performed in Weimar, Germany.

In 1913, the Federal Reserve System was created as President Woodrow Wilson signed the Federal Reserve Act.

In 1928, the National Broadcasting Company set up a permanent, coast-to-coast network.

In 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt restored the civil rights of about 1,500 people who'd been jailed for opposing World War I.

In 1948, former Japanese premier Hideki Tojo and six other Japanese war leaders were executed in Tokyo.

In 1954, the first successful human kidney transplant took place at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston as a surgical team removed a kidney from 23-year-old Ronald Herrick and implanted it in Herrick's twin brother, Richard.

In 1968, 82 crew members of the U.S. intelligence ship Pueblo were released by North Korea, 11 months after they had been captured.

In 1975, Richard S. Welch, the Central Intelligence Agency station chief in Athens, was shot and killed outside his home by the militant group November 17.

In 1986, the experimental airplane Voyager, piloted by Dick Rutan (ruh-TAN') and Jeana Yeager, completed the first non-stop, non-refueled round-the-world flight as it returned safely to Edwards Air Force Base in California.

In 1991, fire destroyed a house in Corsicana, Texas, killing three young children; their father, Cameron Todd Willingham, was convicted of starting the blaze and was executed in 2004, although some experts raised questions about whether the fire had been deliberately set.

Ten years ago: The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously to impose sanctions on Iran for refusing to suspend uranium enrichment; Iran immediately rejected the resolution. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (EH'-hood OHL'-murt) and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (mahk-MOOD' ah-BAHS') held the first Israeli-Palestinian summit in 22 months. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger broke his leg while skiing with his family in Sun Valley, Idaho.

Five years ago: After days of stalemate and rancor, Congress approved a two-month renewal of payroll tax cuts for 160 million workers and unemployment benefits for millions; President Barack Obama immediately signed the bill into law. Two car bombers blew themselves up in Damascus outside the heavily guarded compounds of Syria's intelligence agencies, killing at least 44 people and wounding dozens more in a brazen attack on the powerful security directorates.

One year ago: Protesters blocked access to a terminal and caused significant holiday traffic delays around Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport after staging a Black Lives Matter rally that also briefly shut down part of the Mall of America; the demonstrations were organized to draw attention to the recent police shooting of a black man in Minneapolis. Peggy Say, 74, who spent nearly seven years on a tireless quest for the release of her brother, AP journalist Terry Anderson, and fellow hostages from kidnappers in Lebanon, died in Cookeville, Tennessee.

Today's Birthdays: Actor Ronnie Schell is 85. Emperor Akihito of Japan is 83. Pro and College Football Hall of Famer Paul Hornung is 81. Actor Frederic Forrest is 80. Rock musician Jorma Kaukonen (YOR'-mah KOW'-kah-nen) is 76. Rock musician Ron Bushy is 75. Actor-comedian Harry Shearer is 73. U.S. Army Gen. Wesley K. Clark (ret.) is 72. Actress Susan Lucci is 70. Singer-musician Adrian Belew is 67. Rock musician Dave Murray (Iron Maiden) is 60. Actress Joan Severance is 58. Singer Terry Weeks is 53. Rock singer Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam) is 52. The former first lady of France, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, is 49. Rock musician Jamie Murphy is 41. Jazz musician Irvin Mayfield is 39. Actress Estella Warren is 38. Actress Elvy Yost (TV: "The Catch") is 29. Actress Anna Maria Perez de Tagle (TAG'-lee) is 26. Actor Spencer Daniels is 24.

Thought for Today: "Life began for me when I ceased to admire and began to remember." — Willa Cather, American author (1873-1947).

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 


Mexicans seek loved ones, answers in deadly fireworks blast

Soldiers and investigators walk through the scorched rubble.
(AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)

Firefighters and rescue workers comb through ashes and rubble. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)

Maria Verza, Associated Press

TULTEPEC, Mexico (AP) — Relatives of workers at a fireworks market flattened by a deadly chain-reaction explosion searched hospitals for loved ones Wednesday as attention focused on apparent lax security that allowed vendors to display their dangerous wares in the passageways between stalls.

Late Wednesday, the state of Mexico, where the San Pablito Market is located, updated its list of dead to 33, a figure also announced by state Interior Secretary Jose Manzur in a local radio interview. About 46 people remained hospitalized. Ten of the injured were minors, including one girl with burns over 90 percent of her body.

Juana Antolina Hernandez, who has run a stand for 22 years in San Pablito next to one operated by her parents, escaped the market in a mad dash when the explosions began Tuesday afternoon. The following day she was one of the disconsolate residents waiting outside a local morgue.

"I can't find my father, and my mother is very badly burned," said Hernandez, 49. "I am waiting here for them to tell me if my father is here, but up to this point, nothing."

San Pablito was especially well stocked for the holidays and bustling with hundreds of shoppers when the blast reduced the market to a stark expanse of ash, rubble and the scorched metal, casting a pall over the Christmas season. Dramatic video of the explosion showed a towering plume of smoke that was lit up by a staccato of bangs and flashes of light, the third such incident to ravage the market on the northern outskirts of Mexico's capital since 2005.

Refugio Leon, who spent years working at the market and whose family ran seven stalls there, said vendors commonly stacked displays of bottle rockets and firecrackers outside their establishments in the passageways — even though the rules supposedly forbade putting merchandise in what was supposed to be a safety buffer to prevent chain-reaction explosions.

"Everybody did it," Leon said, speculating that it may have played a role in the rapid spread of the explosions.

Video and photos of the stalls from previous years showed concrete-block enclosures with open dirt passageways between them; later photos showed the passageways filling up with fireworks and awnings.

Officials in Mexico State, which borders Mexico City, said it was too early to identify a cause of the massive series of blasts.

On Dec. 12 the city of Tultepec, where the market is located, issued a statement calling San Pablito "the safest market in Latin America." It said 100 tons of fireworks were expected to be sold during the high season, which runs from August to New Year's.

The city quoted Juan Ignacio Rodarte Cordero, the director of the state's Fireworks Institute, as saying "the stalls are perfectly designed and with sufficient space between them to avoid any chain of fires." City officials said the stalls were equipped with trained personnel, sand, shovels and fire extinguishers.

But during a recent visit to the market, little of that safety equipment could be seen. And when Tuesday's explosion began, vendors and customers didn't have time to look for it — or even, in many cases, to run.

In a fireworks market in Jaltenco, about 30 minutes away from the San Pablito market, business was slow on Wednesday.

Rosa Maria Gonzalez, 47, indicated that her stand was 12 meters from the next nearest ones and said she believed that San Pablito's passageways were narrower and more cluttered.

Gonzalez said she had a permit and met all of the other required safety measures with a bucket of sand and bucket of water at the ready. But she conceded it likely would not make a difference.

"When there is really an accident there isn't time for anything," Gonzalez said. "I'm not going to look for the sand, if it begins to go off the only thing you can do is run and wait until it all goes out."

The president of the leftist Democratic Revolution Party, Alejandra Barrales, noted that fireworks accidents take place regularly including four this year alone.

"This demonstrates the lack of care and attention not just here but in the whole state," Barrales said in a statement.

Mexico State chief prosecutor Alejandro Gomez said some of the dead were so badly burned that neither their age nor their gender could be immediately determined, and that DNA tests would be needed. He said the toll could rise because 12 people were listed as missing and some body parts were found at the scene.

A list of the nine bodies identified so far included a 3-month-old boy and a 12-year-old girl. Gomez said a total of seven male minors were among the dead.

Tultepec Mayor Armando Portuguez Fuentes said late Tuesday that the manufacture and sale of fireworks is a key part of the local economy. He added that it is regulated by law and under the "constant supervision" of the Defense Department, which oversees firearms and explosives.

"This is part of the activity of our town. It is what gives us identity," Portuguez said. "We know it is high-risk, we regret this greatly, but unfortunately many people's livelihoods depend on this activity."

Manzur, the interior secretary, said 30,000 people make a living from fireworks in Tultepec and the trade had been going on there for two centuries.

"Everything is gone," said Hernandez, the woman at the morgue, for whom the market represents a family business passed down from one generation to the next. "I know we lost everything, but I am going to start over."

Two similar fires engulfed the San Pablito Market in 2005 and 2006, touching off chain-reaction explosions that leveled hundreds of stalls in each incident.

Deadly fireworks explosions have also occurred elsewhere in Mexico: In 2002, a blast at a market in the Gulf coast city of Veracruz killed 29; in 1999, 63 people died when an explosion of illegally stored fireworks destroyed part of the city of Celaya; and in 1988, a fireworks blast in Mexico City's La Merced market killed at least 68; and in 2013 a rocket struck a truck loaded with fireworks for a religious procession in Tlaxcala state, killing 17 people.

In an editorial Wednesday, El Universal lamented what it called a "traditional tragedy."

"Our country's fascination with fireworks has caused, among other things, a long series of accidents with terrible results," the newspaper said.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


US puts Alibaba back on 'notorious markets' blacklist

Paul Wiseman, AP Economics Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) — Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group is back on the U.S. government's annual list of "notorious markets" that sell pirated goods.

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said Wednesday that Alibaba's on-line marketplace Taobao sells "high levels" of counterfeit goods and is slow to respond when companies complain about the knockoffs.

USTR took Alibaba off the blacklist in 2012, but several U.S. trade groups successfully sought to get it reinstated.

"There are a lot of victims here," including U.S. companies that lose sales to fakes and consumers who wind up with shoddy goods, said Stephen Lamar, executive vice president at the American Apparel & Footwear Association, which wanted Alibaba back on the list.

Alibaba Group President Michael Evans said the company is "disappointed." Alibaba polices the market more effectively than it did four years ago, he said.

Evans questioned whether the USTR decision was "based on actual facts or was influenced by the current political climate." During the presidential campaign, Donald Trump blasted China for stealing intellectual property.

In 2014, Alibaba sold $25 billion worth of stock on the New York Stock Exchange in the biggest initial public offering on record. Winding up on the notorious markets listing again is another blow to its reputation. In 2015, Chinese regulators issued an unusual, scathing report that accused Alibaba of failing to do enough to prevent the sale of fakes on its websites.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Nearly 400 drug addicts helped in police effort

A woman speaks to The Associated Press inside the police station in Gloucester, Massachusetts. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)

Phipip Marcelo,Associated Press

BOSTON (AP) — A novel drug addiction program developed in a small Massachusetts fishing town and since replicated in dozens of cities nationwide was able to place almost 400 addicts into treatment nearly each time they sought it during the first year of operation, researchers say in a report being published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The team from the Boston Medical Center and Boston University's School of Public Health say 376 addicts sought assistance 429 times from the Gloucester Police Department's Angel program from June 2015 to May 2016. They received the help they needed nearly 95 percent of the time, researchers say.

Davida Schiff, a Boston Medical Center doctor and lead author of the report, said that rate is far higher than the 50 to 60 percent for similar, hospital-based initiatives.

Part of the reason, she said, is that Gloucester's addicts were voluntarily coming to police seeking help. "They were motivated individuals that came to the station ready to engage in care," Schiff said.

The report also notes that Gloucester police established a relationship with a local treatment center to make placement easier. Its officers were working round-the-clock to secure the placements. And Massachusetts mandates health coverage for drug detoxification.

Law enforcement officials in communities that have adopted Gloucester-like heroin initiatives say the report helps validate their work.

"Police officers do not get to pick and choose who they help, and that puts us in a position to make a major impact on the heroin and opioid epidemic," said Frederick Ryan, police chief in the Boston suburb of Arlington.

The Angel program has been replicated in some form by more than 150 police departments in 28 states since it was launched in June 2015. It gained notoriety after the then-police chief promised heroin addicts they could turn in their drugs at the police station without fear of arrest, so long as they agreed to start treatment.

As part of the program, officers personally reach out to treatment centers on behalf of addicts, arrange their transportation to the facilities and, if needed, pair them with a volunteer "angel" for emotional support.

David Rosenbloom, a professor at Boston University's School of Public Health who helped write the report, suggested the program's success underscores the difficulty of accessing drug treatment services.

Roughly half of the participants in the program had prior drug-related arrests, he noted.

"It says something when addicts are going to the police station for treatment," said Rosenbloom, a founding board member of the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative, a Massachusetts-based nonprofit that supports the Angel program and partly financed the research. "It's a real condemnation of how the whole treatment system faces the public."

The next step for researchers is following up with first-year participants to see how they fared in treatment and beyond, he said. The researchers also hope to study similar programs nationally.

___

Follow Philip Marcelo at twitter.com/philmarcelo. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/journalist/philip-marcelo

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


UN votes to set up body to help document crimes in Syria

Edith M. Lederer, Associated Press

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. General Assembly voted Wednesday to establish an investigative body that will assist in documenting and prosecuting the most serious violations of international law in Syria, including possible war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The 193-member world body adopted a resolution by a vote of 105 to 15 with 52 abstentions over strenuous objections from Syria and close ally Russia who accused the assembly of interfering in the work of the Security Council, which is responsible for issues of international peace and security.

Liechtenstein's U.N. Ambassador Christian Wenaweser, who sponsored the resolution, said vetoes in the Security Council, by Russia, "have led to inaction at the expense of the people of Syria."

"Our inaction tends to signal that war crimes and crimes against humanity are condoned and have no consequences," he said.

Wenaweser said this was why the General Assembly, where there are no vetoes, had to address the issue of accountability for violations of international humanitarian and human rights laws since March 2011, when the Syrian conflict began.

The resolution takes "one meaningful step," he said, in establishing a new body "to closely coordinate" with the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, which was established by the Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Council. It said earlier this year that war crimes are "rampant" in Syria.

Syria's U.N. Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari called the resolution illegal, "a flagrant interference in the affairs of a U.N. member state," and "a direct threat to a solution" of the 5 1/2-year conflict which has killed more than 250,000 people.

The resolution establishes an "International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism" under U.N. auspices to closely cooperate with the Commission of Inquiry on Syria "to collect, consolidate, preserve and analyze evidence of violations of international humanitarian law and human rights violations and abuses and prepare files in order to facilitate and expedite fair and independent criminal proceedings" in the future.

It asks the secretary-general to arrange for the speedy establishment of the independent body, which will initially be funded by voluntary contributions, and urges all U.N. member states, especially parties to the conflict, to cooperate with it.

"The General Assembly today demonstrated that it can take the reins on questions of justice in the face of Security Council deadlock," said Balkees Jarrah, senior international justice counsel at Human Rights Watch.

She said countries that voted for the "unprecedented" resolution "took a critically important stand for victims of massive grave crimes."

The General Assembly will now help "pave the road to accountability after years of unchecked atrocities," Jarrah said, and "perpetrators now know that evidence of their misdeeds will be collected to hasten the day when they find themselves in the dock."

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Today in History - Thursday, Dec. 22, 2016

The Associated Press

Today is Thursday, Dec. 22, the 357th day of 2016. There are nine days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On Dec. 22, 1941, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill arrived in Washington for a wartime conference with President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

On this date:

In 1775, Esek Hopkins was appointed the commander-in-chief of the Continental Navy.

In 1894, French army officer Alfred Dreyfus was convicted of treason in a court-martial that triggered worldwide charges of anti-Semitism. (Dreyfus was eventually vindicated.)

In 1910, a fire lasting more than 26 hours broke out at the Chicago Union Stock Yards; 21 firefighters were killed in the collapse of a burning building.

In 1937, the first, center tube of the Lincoln Tunnel connecting New York City and New Jersey beneath the Hudson River was opened to traffic. (The second tube opened in 1945, the third in 1957.)

In 1940, author Nathanael West, 37, and his wife, Eileen McKenney, were killed in a car crash in El Centro, California, while en route to the funeral of F. Scott Fitzgerald, who had died the day before.

In 1944, during the World War II Battle of the Bulge, U.S. Brig. Gen. Anthony C. McAuliffe rejected a German demand for surrender, writing "Nuts!" in his official reply.

In 1968, Julie Nixon married David Eisenhower in a private ceremony in New York.

In 1977, three dozen people were killed when a 250-foot-high grain elevator at the Continental Grain Company plant in Westwego, Louisiana, exploded.

In 1989, Romanian President Nicolae Ceausescu (chow-SHES'-koo), the last of Eastern Europe's hard-line Communist rulers, was toppled from power in a popular uprising. Playwright Samuel Beckett died in Paris at age 83.

In 1991, the body of Marine Lt. Col. William R. Higgins, an American hostage slain by his terrorist captors, was recovered after it had been dumped along a highway in Lebanon.

In 2001, Richard C. Reid, a passenger on an American Airlines flight from Paris to Miami, tried to ignite explosives in his shoes, but was subdued by flight attendants and fellow passengers. (Reid is serving a life sentence in federal prison.)

In 2010, President Barack Obama signed a law allowing gays for the first time in history to serve openly in America's military, repealing the "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

Ten years ago: Rape charges were dropped against three Duke University lacrosse players, but kidnapping and sexual offense charges remained. (Those charges were later dropped as well.) Space shuttle Discovery returned to Earth after a smooth, 13-day flight to rewire the international space station.

Five years ago: A wave of 16 bombings ripped across Baghdad, killing at least 69 people in the worst violence in Iraq in months. It happened days after the last American forces left the country, heightening fears of a new round of sectarian bloodshed. Melanie Amaro, a 19-year-old vocalist from Sunrise, Florida, won the first U.S. season of "The X Factor" talent competition on Fox.

One year ago: Migration experts said more than a million people who had been driven out of their countries by war, poverty and persecution entered Europe in 2015. Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey was named The Associated Press college football player of the year.

Today's Birthdays: Actor Hector Elizondo is 80. Country singer Red Steagall is 78. Former World Bank Group President Paul Wolfowitz is 73. Baseball Hall-of-Famer Steve Carlton is 72. Former ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer is 71. Rock singer-musician Rick Nielsen (Cheap Trick) is 68. Rock singer-musician Michael Bacon is 68. Baseball All-Star Steve Garvey is 68. Golfer Jan Stephenson is 65. Actress BernNadette Stanis is 63. Rapper Luther "Luke" Campbell is 56. Country singer-musician Chuck Mead is 56. Actor Ralph Fiennes (rayf fynz) is 54. Actress Lauralee Bell is 48. Country singer Lori McKenna is 48. Actress Dina Meyer is 48. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is 46. Actress Heather Donahue is 43. Actor Chris Carmack is 36. Actor Harry Ford (TV: "Code Black") is 34. Actor Greg Finley is 32. Actor Logan Huffman is 27. Rhythm-and-blues singer Jordin Sparks is 27. Pop singer Meghan Trainor is 23.

Thought for Today: "The way you overcome shyness is to become so wrapped up in something that you forget to be afraid." — Lady Bird Johnson (born this date in 1912, died 2007).


Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

Actress Debbie Reynolds has died at 84

Reactions to the death of actress Debbie Reynolds

Australian police seize 1 ton of cocaine, arrest 15 men

Bomb blasts hurt more than 30 at Philippine boxing match

Today in History - Thursday, Dec. 29, 2016


'Star Wars' actress and author Carrie Fisher dies at 60

Stray bag of toys prompts scare at Trump Tower

A look at the 6 inmates on US military death row

Indian police say 38 injured in train accident

Today in History - Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2016


Reactions to the death of superstar singer George Michael

Air safety directive grounds some flights in Mexico

Colombia probe finds human error, lack of fuel in air crash

Cancer patient donates year's worth of pizza to food bank

Today in History - Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2016


Queen Elizabeth II misses Christmas service due to illness

Russia examines all possible reasons for Black Sea jet crash

Massive WWII bomb is defused in German town of Augsburg

British singer George Michael dead at age 53

Today in History - Monday, Dec. 26, 2016


Today in History - Sunday, Dec. 25, 2016

A&E changes documentary series title to 'Escaping the KKK'

FDA OKs first treatment for rare genetic disorder

Berlin attack suspect slain in shootout with Italian police

Carrie Fisher remains in intensive care unit, brother says

Today in History - Saturday, Dec. 24, 2016


Final test results confirm Ebola vaccine highly effective

Australia police: Christmas Day bomb plot foiled, 5 detained

China says it will cooperate with Trump but warns on Taiwan

Happy birthday to Colo: Oldest gorilla in US turns 60

Today in History - Friday, Dec. 23, 2016


Mexicans seek loved ones, answers in deadly fireworks blast

US puts Alibaba back on 'notorious markets' blacklist

Nearly 400 drug addicts helped in police effort

UN votes to set up body to help document crimes in Syria

Today in History - Thursday, Dec. 22, 2016

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