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AP Top News at 9:44 a.m. EST

Horror in Japan as video purports to show hostage beheaded
TOKYO (AP) - Appalled and saddened by news of journalist Kenji Goto's purported beheading by Islamic State extremists, Japan ordered heightened security precautions Sunday and said it would persist with its non-military support for fighting terrorism. The failure to save Goto raised fears for the life of a Jordanian fighter pilot also held by the militant group that controls about a third of both Syria and Iraq. Unlike some earlier messages delivered in the crisis, the video that circulated online late Saturday purporting to show a militant beheading Goto did not mention the pilot.


APNewsBreak: Obama ties foreign profits tax to public works
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama's budget will propose an ambitious six-year, $478 billion public works program of highway, bridge and transit upgrades, half of it financed with a one-time mandatory tax on profits that U.S. companies have amassed overseas, White House officials said. The proposal, one of the main components of the $4 trillion spending plan for the 2016 budget year that Obama will send to Congress on Monday, attempts to tap into bipartisan support for spending on badly needed infrastructure repairs and construction.


Officials meet to address safety after aviation calamities
WASHINGTON (AP) - Government and aviation industry officials from dozens of countries are meeting in Montreal this week to try to find consensus on how to keep from losing airliners like the one that vanished without a trace in Asia and another shot down in Eastern Europe. It is only the second high-level safety conference in the 70-year history of the International Civil Aviation Organization, a U.N. agency, but last year was calamitous. A Malaysia Airlines flight disappeared in March and has not been found. In July, another Malaysia Airlines flight was down shot down while flying over an area of Ukraine where ethnic Russian rebels are trying to secede.


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For Clinton, deciding how to prepare for a low-key primary
WASHINGTON (AP) - The challenge ahead for Hillary Rodham Clinton is one faced by few White House hopefuls: running a primary campaign in which she faces little competition, if any at all. Still not officially a candidate, the former New York senator, secretary of state and first lady sits far atop early polls against a small field of potential rivals for the Democratic nomination. None of them seems to be in any hurry to move into the race.


Egypt releases Australian Al-Jazeera reporter
CAIRO (AP) - A senior Egyptian prison official and the country's official news agency say Al-Jazeera's Australian reporter Peter Greste has been freed from prison and is on his way to Cairo airport to leave the country. The agency said his release on Sunday, after more than a year behind bars, followed a presidential "approval" and both said it was coordinated with the Australian Embassy in Cairo.


Extremists attack biggest city in northeast Nigeria
MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (AP) - Nigerian troops Sunday repelled Islamic extremists who attacked from four fronts on Maiduguri, the biggest city in northeast Nigeria, with several civilians killed by aerial bombs and grenades and mortar shells on the ground. Soldiers said hundreds of insurgents died.


Egypt antiquities showman tells the world it's safe to visit
KRUGERSDORP, South Africa (AP) - Egypt's best-known archaeologist is a passionate showman with an explorer's fedora who joined the last, doomed Cabinet of President Hosni Mubarak, then resigned in a swirl of corruption allegations after the 2011 revolution ousted his patron. Admired or reviled, he is once again a frontman for Egypt, exhorting international audiences to see the heritage of a country where unrest has hit tourism hard. "Egypt is safe," Zahi Hawass declared last week at a South African casino complex where schoolchildren roamed an exhibition of replicas of King Tutankhamun's treasures. Egyptian hotels and antiquities sites are secure, said Hawass, who planned to welcome a tour group of 120 Americans to Egypt at the end of January.


Romanian mountain Ice Church draws all types of Christians
BALEA LAC, Romania (AP) - High on a remote mountain in Romania, priests have blessed a church made entirely from ice, outstanding both for its architectural style as well as being a place for religious tolerance. Builders have once again created the Ice Church, which is only reachable by cable car at an altitude of 2,000 meters (6,600 feet). Water from Balea Lake, 300 kilometers (190 miles) northwest of Bucharest, is blessed by priests. Chunks of ice are then cut with a chain saw and cemented together with water and snow to make the church.


Toddler wounds both parents with 1 shot from handgun
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Authorities say a 3-year-old boy got ahold of a handgun from his mother's purse and fired just one shot that wounded both his parents. Albuquerque police say the toddler apparently reached for an iPod but found the loaded weapon.


Seahawks repeat would be a scary prospect for NFL
PHOENIX (AP) - Here are some scary thoughts for the rest of the NFL: A win Sunday will stamp the Seahawks as one of the best teams of the Super Bowl era. And, given Seattle's makeup and philosophy, the future for the franchise might be brighter than for any other club.