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AP Top News at 5:40 p.m. EST

Trump, amid combative start, pledges to rise to moment
WASHINGTON (AP) - After a combative start to his presidency, Donald Trump delivered a more unifying message Sunday and sought to reassure Americans he was up to the daunting task ahead, as he turned to the business of government. Speaking in the White House East Room during a swearing-in ceremony for top aides, the president warned his staff of future challenges but declared he believed they were ready. "But with the faith in each other and the faith in God, we will get the job done," the president said. "We will prove worthy of this moment in history. And I think it may very well be a great moment in history." Trump's reassurance came after a day marked by global protests against his presidency and his own complaints about media coverage of his inauguration.


More tornadoes ahead as death toll reach 15 in southeast US
ADEL, Georgia (AP) - Deadly weather in the Southeast killed 16 people and injured dozens more, authorities said Sunday, as residents along the Georgia-Florida line braced for more intense, fast-moving storms - including unusually strong "long track" twisters. On Sunday, an apparent tornado blew through a mobile home park in rural Cook County in southern Georgia - sheering off siding, upending homes and killing seven people, local officials said. An eighth death was reported in Cook County by state officials, although it was unclear whether that victim lived in the park. Coroner Tim Purvis said the tornado "leveled" the park before dawn Sunday and that emergency responders searched for survivors for hours after the twister struck.


Israeli leader accepts invitation from Trump to visit US
JERUSALEM (AP) - Israel's prime minister on Sunday accepted an invitation to visit the White House next month in hopes of forging a "common vision" for the region with President Donald Trump that could include expanded settlement construction on occupied territories and a tougher policy toward Iran. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced his plans to head to Washington in early February hours after delaying a vote on an explosive proposal to annex one of the West Bank's largest settlements, apparently to coordinate his policy toward the Palestinians with the new administration. The move put on hold legislation that threatens to unleash fresh violence and damage already faded hopes for Palestinian independence.


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Avalanche survivors: sipping tea, then world crashed down
FARINDOLA, Italy (AP) - Some of the lucky ones were sipping hot tea near the fireplace in their mountain resort hotel, waiting for snowplows to arrive so they could finally go home, after a winter holiday made nerve-wracking by a day of ground-shaking earthquakes and heavy snowfall. Suddenly, Vincenzo Forti and girlfriend Giorgia Galassi were knocked violently off a wicker sofa. A few other guests nearby tumbled off their chairs in the elegant yet rustic reception hall. An avalanche of snow - and not a tremendously powerful earthquake as survivors first imagined - had just barreled down the mountainside Wednesday evening, smashing into the Hotel Rigopiano and trapping more than 30 holiday-makers, including four children, and workers inside.


Gambia's ex-leader made off with millions, luxury cars
BANJUL, Gambia (AP) - Exiled Gambian ruler Yahya Jammeh stole millions of dollars in his final weeks in power, plundering the state coffers and shipping out luxury vehicles by cargo plane, a special adviser for the new president said Sunday. Meanwhile, a regional military force rolled in, greeted by cheers, to secure this tiny West African nation so that democratically elected President Adama Barrow could return home. He remained in neighboring Senegal, where he took the oath of office Thursday because of concerns for his safety. At a press conference in the Senegalese capital, Barrow's special adviser Mai Ahmad Fatty told journalists that the president "will return home as soon as possible." Underscoring the challenges facing the new administration, Fatty confirmed that Jammeh made off with more than $11.4 million during a two-week period alone.


Intensive negotiations ahead of Russia-led Syria talks
ASTANA, Kazakhstan (AP) - Delegates from Russia, Turkey and Iran held hours-long talks in Kazakhstan Sunday on the eve of negotiations between Syrian rebels and President Bashar Assad's government, trying to forge common ground that would nudge forward a political settlement for the country's civil war. The talks between the two warring sides are the first in a year, and are meant as a first step to consolidate a cease-fire reached last month. Whether Russia and Turkey will manage to bolster the cease-fire they brokered on Dec. 30 will be a key measure of success for the Astana meetings, Syrian opposition spokesman Yahya al-Aridi told reporters in the Kazakh capital Sunday.


Partial results: Valls, Hamon advance in French primary
PARIS (AP) - Manuel Valls, a center-leaning former prime minister who rallied France together after extremist attacks, will confront stalwart Socialist Benoit Hamon in the country's left-wing presidential primary runoff next week. Hamon, a former government minister, was leading Sunday with 36.12 percent followed by Valls with 31.24 percent, based on about half of the vote count, according to the results published on the Socialist primary website. Whoever wins the Jan. 29 primary runoff will face the April-May presidential election battling more popular candidates from the far right to the far left riding frustration with immigration and economic stagnation. Tough-talking, center-leaning Valls jumped in the presidential race in December few days after President Francois Hollande declined to seek re-election -acknowledging his personal unpopularity would lead his Socialist party to defeat in the presidential battle.


Russia set to move closer to decriminalize domestic violence
MOSCOW (AP) - In Russia, giving one's spouse a slap is nothing extraordinary for many people. This week, the Russian parliament is expected to take a step closer toward decriminalizing it altogether. Battery is a criminal offense in Russia, but nearly 20 percent of Russians openly say they think it is sometimes OK to hit a spouse or a child. In a bid to accommodate conservative voters, deputies in the lower house of parliament have given initial approval to a bill eliminating criminal liability for domestic violence that stops short of serious bodily harm or rape. If the measure passes its second reading in the Duma on Wednesday, when the draft can be changed, approval in the third and final reading would be a foregone conclusion.


Royals' Ventura killed in car crash in Dominican Republic
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Yordano Ventura quit school as a teenager so he could begin working a construction job to help his family make ends meet, laboring day after day in the hot sun of the Dominican Republic. It was a chance tryout with the Kansas City Royals that changed the trajectory of his life. Yordano wowed scouts with an electrifying fastball, the best they had seen in years, and a confident demeanor that bordered on brash and arrogant. And both of those traits served him well as he rocketed to the major leagues, helped the Royals win a long-awaited World Series championship in 2015, and became one of the most popular players in a city that embraced baseball one again.


The Latest: Packers mistakes costly as Falcons lead 31-7
The Green Bay Packers won their last six games of the regular season by being taking care of the ball on offense and forcing turnovers on defense. But it's the Packers making mistakes in the NFC championship against Atlanta. The Packers turned the ball over twice in the first half, and the Falcons cashed in each time with touchdowns. Green Bay's defense has missed out on turnovers. Defensive backs Marwin Evans and LaDarius Gunter each got their hands on potential interceptions, while linebacker Jake Ryan couldn't recover a fumble. During Green Bay's six-game win streak, the Packers had 15 takeaways to just one giveaway.