Obama and Trump hurled insults, now trade pleasantries WASHINGTON (AP) - Did anyone see it coming, the apparent new rapport between President Barack Obama and President-elect Donald Trump? Just a few months ago they were regularly flinging insults back and forth. Today they're trading phone calls and pleasantries. Apparently, membership in one of the world's most exclusive clubs, the club of U.S. presidents, has a way of changing things. On Wednesday, Trump talked about letting bygones be bygones. "I've now gotten to know President Obama. I really like him," he said on NBC's "Today" after Time magazine announced him as its Person of the Year. "We have, I think I can say, at least for myself, I can't speak for him, but we have a really good chemistry together.
Aid groups descend on Indonesia quake zone; deaths reach 102 MEUREUDU, Indonesia (AP) - Humanitarian organizations descended on Indonesia's Aceh province Thursday as the government promised tons of emergency aid and officials raced to assess the full extent of damage from an earthquake that killed more than 100 people. Volunteers and nearly 1,500 rescue personnel concentrated their search on the hard-hit town of Meureudu in Pidie Jaya district near the epicenter of the magnitude-6.5 quake that hit before dawn Wednesday. Humanitarian assessment teams fanned out to other areas of the district. National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said the death toll had risen to 102 and warned it could increase.
AP PHOTOS: Indonesian towns reel from earthquake devastation PIDIE JAYA, Indonesia (AP) - Damage from the earthquake that shook Indonesia's Aceh province on Wednesday is extensive in towns near the epicenter. A market was leveled, and other buildings reduced to chunks of cement and twisted rebar. Crowds form around excavators as rescuers hope to find a miraculous survival story in a landscape of tragedy. The official death toll stood at about 100 on Thursday morning, with a great deal of debris left to sort through and assessment teams just making their way to outlying areas. The magnitude 6.5 quake damaged mosques and left thousands of people homeless. People affected by the destruction are beginning to receive aid, including water, blankets and tarpaulins, and humanitarian agencies are assessing how much more they will need.
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Pirates preying on Venezuelan fishermen as industry unravels PUNTA DE ARAYA, Venezuela (AP) - The pirates had killed Flaco Marval's brother and two cousins, and word was they were coming for the rest of the family. So the skinny 17-year-old and the other Marval men ran to grab the guns they'd soldered together from kitchen pipes, smoked an acrid-smelling drug to boost their energy, and went out into the night to patrol the sandy village streets. Flaco was flying high. "We just have to kill these thugs, and then we can go back to fishing like we always did," he said. Pirates are terrorizing the coastal state of Sucre, once home to the world's fourth-largest tuna fleet and a thriving fishing industry.
The Latest: Assad: Aleppo win 'big gain' but not end of war Syrian President Bashar Assad says victory in the battle for Aleppo will be a "big gain" for his government but that it will not be the end of the war in Syria. In an interview published on Thursday in the state-owned newspaper al-Watan, Assad described his forces' fight in Aleppo as one against terrorism and a conspiracy to destroy and divide Syria, allegedly led by Turkey. Assad says that "liberating Aleppo from the terrorists deals a blow to the whole foundation of this project." With Aleppo, Syria's largest city and former commercial heart, the capital of Damascus and Homs, the third largest city under his control, Assad says "terrorists" no longer hold any cards.
Assad supporters see domino effect in Aleppo government win ALEPPO, Syria (AP) - Aleppo shakes with explosions and gunfire day and night in both the government- and rebel-held sides of the divided Syrian city. But for supporters of President Bashar Assad, there is a growing sense of imminent victory. If the city's rebel-held sector falls, many see a domino effect across the country. And with the rebels losing one ravaged stronghold after another, attacked from the skies and abandoned by allies, it's a scenario that looks ever more plausible. A rebel defeat in Aleppo, Syria's largest city and once its commercial center, would reverberate across the war-torn country, where opposition forces continue to hold out in smaller, scattered areas.
S. Korea's parliament sets up presidential impeachment vote SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - South Korea's opposition-controlled parliament introduced an impeachment motion Thursday against President Park Geun-hye, setting up a likely vote Friday on whether to suspend her powers over a huge political scandal. A parliamentary official reported the motion to a plenary session, which means an impeachment vote must take place between 24 and 72 hours. Friday is the final day of the current parliamentary regular session. The motion needs two-thirds approval in the 300-seat single-chamber parliament to pass. The opposition and anti-Park independents have 172 seats and they appear to have secured enough support from ruling party dissenters to pass an impeachment, according to political observers.
Raging Oakland warehouse fire trapped victims in smoke OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - The fire that killed 36 people during a party at an Oakland warehouse started on the ground floor and quickly raged, with smoke billowing into the second level and trapping victims whose only escape route was through the flames, federal investigators said Wednesday. "The occupants were consumed by smoke before they could get out of the building," said Jill Snyder, special agent in charge of the San Francisco office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. She also confirmed there were no sprinklers or fire alarm system in the building. Officials previously said recovery efforts at the site had ended with the death toll remaining at 36.
Federal judge halts recount, sealing Trump's Michigan win DETROIT (AP) - A federal judge who ordered Michigan to begin its recount effectively ended it on Wednesday, tying his decision to a state court ruling that found Green Party candidate Jill Stein had no legal standing to request another look at ballots. The ruling seals Republican Donald Trump's narrow victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton for Michigan's 16 electoral votes. U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith agreed with Republicans who argued that the three-day recount must end a day after the state appeals court dealt a blow to the effort. The court said Stein, who finished fourth in Michigan on Nov. 8, didn't have a chance of winning even after a recount and therefore isn't an "aggrieved" candidate.
Oklahoma's Westbrook takes small-town skills to big stage NORMAN, Okla. (AP) - Dede Westbrook looked like a contortionist at the end his 29-yard touchdown grab against Baylor. Oklahoma's breakout star caught the ball around the Bears 12-yard line and appeared headed out of bounds. He slipped before reaching the sideline, balanced on his left hand twice to inch closer to the end zone, then managed to reach the ball over the plane of the goal line with two hands as he fell out of bounds. He said that body control came from his younger days in the country, where his cousin made a game of sending him across the highway to get mail.