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AP Top News at 10:38 a.m. EST

Trump mobilizing Louisiana Republicans in final Senate race
NEW YORK (AP) - Tending to party politics, President-elect Donald Trump is rallying supporters in Louisiana on Friday ahead of the state's Senate runoff election, aiming to pad the Republican majority he will inherit. Trump was campaigning for Republican John Kennedy in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and then making another stop on his "thank you" tour in Grand Rapids, Michigan, a state that helped him prevail against Democrat Hillary Clinton in last month's election. Ahead of his trip, he was meeting with House Speaker Paul Ryan to discuss policy priorities. The president-elect has been splitting his time of late between meeting with potential Cabinet secretaries and traveling to the states that helped him win the White House.


US defense secretary offers assurances to Afghan leaders
BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan (AP) - U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Friday that America will stick with Afghanistan for years to come as a new U.S. president takes over what is already America's longest war. In a joint appearance In Kabul with Afghanistan's president, Ashraf Ghani, Carter said the U.S. cannot afford to give up on Afghanistan after more than 15 years of U.S. involvement, the deaths of more than 2,200 U.S. troops, and the expenditure of hundreds of billions of dollars. "The interests we are pursuing here are clear and enduring," he said, citing the goals of preventing another 9/11-type of attack on American soil and helping Afghanistan attain enough stability to remain a long-term security partner for the U.S.


South Korean president is impeached in stunning fall
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - South Korean lawmakers on Friday impeached President Park Geun-hye, a stunning and swift fall for the country's first female leader amid protests that drew millions into the streets in united fury. After the vote, parliamentary officials hand-delivered formal documents to the presidential Blue House that stripped Park of her power and allowed the country's No. 2 official, Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, to assume leadership until the Constitutional Court rules on whether Park must permanently step down. The court has up to six months to decide. "I'd like to say that I'm deeply sorry to the people because the nation has to experience this turmoil because of my negligence and lack of virtue at a time when our security and economy both face difficulties," Park said after the vote, before a closed-door meeting with her Cabinet where she and other aides reportedly broke down in tears.


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Alabama inmate coughs, heaves, during execution by injection
ATMORE, Ala. (AP) - An Alabama inmate coughed repeatedly and his upper body heaved for at least 13 minutes during an execution using a drug that has previously been used in problematic lethal injections in at least three other states. Ronald Bert Smith Jr., 45, also appeared to move slightly during two tests mean to determine consciousness before he was finally pronounced dead at 11:05 p.m. Thursday - about 30 minutes after the procedure began at the state prison in southwest Alabama. Alabama uses the sedative midazolam as the first drug in a three-drug lethal injection combination. Oklahoma's use of midazolam as the first in a three-drug protocol was challenged after the April 2014 execution of Clayton Lockett, who writhed on a gurney, moaned and clenched his teeth for several minutes before prison officials tried to halt the process.


Coal-state Dems threaten gov't shutdown over aid for miners
WASHINGTON (AP) - Hours to a government shutdown, coal-state Senate Democrats blocked swift action on a stopgap spending bill over benefits for retired miners and pressed President-elect Donald Trump, a self-proclaimed coal champion, to intervene with Republicans. The House on Thursday easily approved the must-pass bill that would keep the government operating beyond Friday's midnight deadline and through April 28. The vote was 326-96. But the bill stalled in the Senate as Democrats facing re-election in 2018, including West Virginia's Joe Manchin, Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, fought for a one-year extension for the miners' health benefits rather than the temporary, four-month fix in the bill.


Prosecutors to play Roof confession in church slayings trial
CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - Dylann Roof's confession to killing nine black church members in a racially motivated attack last year will be publicly aired for the first time Friday when prosecutors play a recording of police questioning the young white man. The recording may offer more insight into why Roof attacked the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church during Bible study on June 17, 2015. In an opening statement earlier this week, assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Richardson said Roof not only confessed, but gave chilling details on his preparation and his motivation for the attack when he spoke to law enforcement.


Lessons of hotel fire echo after Oakland warehouse disaster
ATLANTA (AP) - The cries of trapped hotel guests screaming in agony are still seared into Richard Hamil's memory, seven decades after the Winecoff Hotel fire in Atlanta. As a 9-year-old boy, he and his father were blinded in thick smoke, stumbling from their 15th-floor room into the hallway in "absolute chaos," then into a female guest's room, Hamil recalls. "She was preparing to jump, but Daddy told her, 'No, not until we have to, we won't do that," he said. The deadliest hotel fire in U.S. history killed 119 people 70 years ago this week and led to new and lasting fire safety standards for hotels and other public buildings.


All-American John Glenn: Astronaut, fighter pilot, senator
WASHINGTON (AP) - John Glenn was the ultimate all-American hero. He was the first American to orbit the Earth, a war hero fighter pilot, a record-setting test pilot, a longtime senator, a presidential candidate and a man who defied age and gravity to go back into space at 77. But those were just his accomplishments. What made John Glenn was more his persona: He was a combat veteran with boy next door looks, a strong marriage and nerves of steel. Schools were named after him. Children were named after him. His life story of striving hard, succeeding, suffering setbacks and high-flying redemption was as American as it gets.


Hollywood legend Kirk Douglas turns 100
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Kirk Douglas is officially a centenarian. The legendary actor turned 100 Friday. Douglas is probably best known for playing the title role in Stanley Kubrick's 1960 film, "Spartacus." He was nominated for a best actor Oscar three times in the 1950s and received an honorary Academy Award in 1996. His son, actor Michael Douglas, paid an early birthday tribute to his father at an October event for the Motion Picture and Television Fund, calling him an icon, a legend and "a true movie star from an era when movie stars were looked upon as our version of royalty." Kirk Douglas was also presented with cake and a rendition of "Happy Birthday" at the event.


Doping report details 'institutional conspiracy' in Russia
LONDON (AP) - A new report into systematic Russian doping details a wide-ranging "institutional conspiracy" that involved more than 1,000 athletes across more than 30 sports, including evidence corroborating large-scale sample swapping at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. World Anti-Doping Agency investigator Richard McLaren said Friday the conspiracy involved the Russian Sports Ministry, national anti-doping agency and the FSB intelligence service, providing further details of state involvement in a massive program of cheating and cover-ups that ran on an "unprecedented scale" from 2011-15. "It is impossible to know just how deep and how far back this conspiracy goes," McLaren said at a news conference in London.