Trump expected to tap Exxon's Tillerson to lead State Dept. WASHINGTON (AP) - President-elect Donald Trump moved closer to nominating Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson as his secretary of State on Saturday, a decision that would bring a business leader with close ties to Russia into the Cabinet. Trump has privately signaled that he plans to tap Tillerson for the powerful Cabinet post, but had not formally offered him the job as of Saturday evening, according to people who have spoken with Trump and his transition team. Some advisers worry that Tillerson's Russia connections would lead to a contentious Senate confirmation hearing and keep alive questions about Trump's own relationship with Moscow.
Trump team challenges intel on Russian election influence WASHINGTON (AP) - Donald Trump's presidential transition team on Saturday challenged the veracity of U.S. intelligence assessments that Russia was trying to tip the November election to the Republican. A top Senate Democrat demanded a full congressional investigation. The CIA has now concluded with "high confidence" that Moscow was not only interfering with the election, but that its actions were intended to help Trump, according to a senior U.S. official. The assessment is based in part on evidence that Russian actors had hacked Republicans as well as Democrats but were only releasing information harmful to Trump's rival, Hillary Clinton. The official was not authorized to discuss the private intelligence assessment publicly and insisted on anonymity.
Islamic State militants re-enter Syria's historic Palmyra BEIRUT (AP) - Islamic State militants re-entered the historic city of Palmyra in central Syria on Saturday for the first time since they were expelled by Syrian and Russian forces nine months ago. The activist-run Palmyra Coordination network said the militants had nearly encircled the city and entered its northern and northwestern neighborhoods. The group, which maintains contacts inside the city, said IS fighters were approaching the city's UNESCO heritage site as well. Osama al-Khatib said government soldiers were fleeing Palmyra. "The army as an institution has dissolved," he said. Some soldiers and militiamen remain in the city, along with 120 families who have not been able to leave, Khatib said.
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Day of mourning declared in Turkey after twin blasts kill 29 ISTANBUL (AP) - Turkey has declared a national day of mourning after twin blasts in Istanbul killed 29 people and wounded 166 others near a soccer stadium. The Sunday statement from Prime Minister Binali Yildirim's office also ordered flags to fly at half-staff across the country and at Turkey's foreign missions. Twin attacks Saturday night by a car bomber and a suicide bomber near Istanbul's Besiktas soccer stadium were the latest large-scale assault to traumatize a nation confronting an array of security threats. There was no immediate claim of responsibility but one official said suspicions were focused on Kurdish militants. Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus told the private news channel CNN Turk that "arrows point to the PKK." He was referring to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, which has waged a decades-long insurgency.
At least 60 killed as crowded church collapses in Nigeria LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) - The roof of a crowded church collapsed onto worshippers in southern Nigeria on Saturday, killing at least 60 people, witnesses and an official said. The Reigners Bible Church International in Uyo, capital of Akwa Ibom state, was still under construction and workers had been rushing to finish it in time for Saturday's ceremony to ordain founder Akan Weeks as a bishop, congregants said. Hundreds of people, including Gov. Udom Emmanuel, were inside when metal girders crashed onto worshippers and the corrugated iron roof caved in, they said. Emmanuel and Weeks, who preached that God will make his followers rich, escaped unhurt.
KKK, other racist groups disavow the white supremacist label PELHAM, N.C. (AP) - In today's racially charged environment, there's a label that even the KKK disavows: white supremacy. Standing on a muddy dirt road in the dead of night near the North Carolina-Virginia border, masked Ku Klux Klan members claimed Donald Trump's election as president proves whites are taking back America from blacks, immigrants, Jews and other groups they describe as criminals and freeloaders. America was founded by and for whites, they say, and only whites can run a peaceful, productive society. But still, the KKK members insisted in an interview with The Associated Press, they're not white supremacists, a label that is gaining traction in the country since Trump won with the public backing of the Klan, neo-Nazis and other white racists.
Non-OPEC oil producers to cut output 558,000 barrels a day VIENNA (AP) - OPEC has persuaded 11 non-members to cut oil production, a move aimed at draining a worldwide oil glut and boosting low prices that have squeezed government finances in Russia and Saudi Arabia. Officials said Saturday that non-members agreed to cut 558,000 barrels per day for six months starting Jan. 1, and that the deal was renewable for another six months after that. The figure was less than the 600,000 barrels a day that OPEC had hoped for. Those non-member cuts come on top of an OPEC decision Nov. 30 to reduce member output by 1.2 million barrels a day.
More than 30 dead as tanker rams into vehicles on Kenya road NAIVASHA, Kenya (AP) - A runaway tanker carrying volatile gas slammed into other vehicles and burst into flames on a major road in Kenya, killing at least 33 people and injuring 10, officials said early Sunday. The tanker lost control while going downhill on the road from the capital, Nairobi, to Naivasha late Saturday, said Mwachi Pius Masai, the deputy director and communications officer for the National Disaster Management Unit. "This is a serious chemical incident," Masai said. "Police and other rescuers are still on the scene ... clearing debris." He said the death toll could rise. Police said at least 10 people were injured.
Dylan expresses awe over Nobel Prize, alludes to Shakespeare STOCKHOLM (AP) - Bob Dylan has expressed awe at receiving the Nobel Prize in literature and thanked the Swedish Academy for including him among the "giants" of writing. Dylan was absent from Saturday's award ceremony and banquet in Stockholm. But in remarks read by the U.S. ambassador, he alluded to the debate about whether the award should go to a songwriter. Dylan said when Shakespeare wrote "Hamlet," he probably was thinking about which actors to pick and where to find a skull. In his words: "I'm sure the farthest thing from Shakespeare's mind was: 'Is this literature?'" Dylan said he too focuses on "mundane matters" such as recording in the right key, not on whether his songs are literature.
Lousiville's Lamar Jackson wins Heisman Trophy NEW YORK (AP) - Lamar Jackson was trying to remember the last time he cried. He was pretty sure it involved losing a little league football game. On Saturday night, Louisville's spectacular sophomore quarterback found out winning can get a guy choked up, too. Jackson became the first Louisville player to win the Heisman Trophy, beating out preseason favorite Deshaun Watson of Clemson despite some late-season struggles. Watson, who finished third last season, was a distant second. Baker Mayfield finished third and Oklahoma teammate and fellow finalist Dede Westbrook was fourth. Michigan's Jabrill Peppers was fifth. Jackson, wearing a red velvet blazer with shiny black lapels and a black bow tie, said he could feel his heart pounding in his chest right before his name was announced.