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AP Top News at 7:09 a.m. EST

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 local disaster agency called for urgent food supplies 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. But the small number of heavy excavators on the scene meant progress was slow. 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.


10 Things to Know for Today
Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today: 1. WHO'S FORMING UNLIKELY POLITICAL FRIENDSHIP An apparent rapport is brewing between Obama and Trump that few, if any, saw coming. 2. GOP AT ODDS OVER TRUMP'S SOFTENING STANCE ON IMMIGRATION The president-elect's promise to "work something out" for immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children is dividing fellow Republicans. 3. WHAT'S HEARTENING ASSAD'S SUPPORTERS Backers of Syria's government are taking comfort in the growing sense of imminent victory in the key battleground of Aleppo. 4. RISING HUMAN TOLL FROM INDONESIAN EARTHQUAKE Beyond the more than 100 deaths, thousands of people are homeless or afraid to return to their homes in the region, where killer quakes occur regularly.


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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.


Syria president says victory in Aleppo won't end the war
BEIRUT (AP) - President Bashar Assad said in comments published Thursday that Syrian forces' victory in the battle for Aleppo will be a "big gain" for his government but that it will not end of the country's civil war. Assad's comments came as his troops were pushing further into the rebel-held enclave in eastern Aleppo, in swift advances that were hardly possible earlier in the bitter conflict, now in its sixth year. Deeply divided since 2012 between Syrian government and rebel-controlled areas, more than three quarters of the rebel section have now fallen under the government's control, including the symbolically important ancient Aleppo quarters.


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.


Investigators to look at electrical system in Oakland fire
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - Federal officials investigating a fire that killed 36 people during a party at an Oakland warehouse plan to bring in engineers to examine the building's electrical system, as they try to pinpoint the cause of a blaze that has cast a spotlight on similar artists' colonies around the country that offer cheap housing but unsafe living conditions. Federal investigators said Wednesday the fire started on the ground floor of the Oakland warehouse and quickly raged, with smoke billowing into the second level and trapping victims whose only escape route was through the flames. "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.


Surgeon General calls youth vaping a public health threat
WASHINGTON (AP) - The U.S. surgeon general is calling e-cigarettes an emerging public health threat to the nation's youth. In a report being released Thursday, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy acknowledged a need for more research into the health effects of "vaping," but said e-cigarettes aren't harmless and too many teens are using them. "My concern is e-cigarettes have the potential to create a whole new generation of kids who are addicted to nicotine," Murthy told The Associated Press. "If that leads to the use of other tobacco-related products, then we are going to be moving backward instead of forward." Battery-powered e-cigarettes turn liquid nicotine into an inhalable vapor without the harmful tar generated by regular cigarettes.


Review: 'Hairspray Live!' pushes the boundaries and wins big
NEW YORK (AP) - There may have been enough aerosol spray to burn off the rest of our ozone layer, but Wednesday's ambitious live version of the musical "Hairspray" on NBC was worth the environmental damage. It was light and fun and soon had you stuck. Fittingly for a musical about pushing the boundaries, this was not a safe telecast in any way. It was shot with many outside scenes and with complex moving parts. Actors dodged real cars and buses, they dodged real dodge balls and some dancers dodged other dancers doing somersaults. "This is America. You have to think big to be big," one character says in the show, and this broadcast thought mighty big.


AP source: Chapman, Yankees reach deal for $86M, 5 years
OXON HILL, Md. (AP) - Aroldis Chapman found a spot in a most familiar bullpen - a very rich spot, too. The hard-throwing closer reached agreement to return to the New York Yankees on Wednesday night with the highest-priced contract ever for a relief pitcher, an $86 million deal for five years. A person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press that the contract was pending a physical. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal was not yet complete. Once it's done, the 28-year-old lefty whose fastballs routinely top 100 mph would shatter the previous richest contract for a reliever - that was the $62 million, four-year deal Mark Melancon signed with San Francisco just a couple days ago during the winter meetings.

1-2 Buzz Question
1-2 Buzz Question
2012 vs. 2011 - Will the New Year be:
: Better
: Worse
: The Same