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AP Top News at 4:57 a.m. EST

South Korean lawmakers have impeached President Park Geun-hye, suspending her powers over an explosive corruption scandal that saw millions protest in recent weeks
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. Once formal documents are handed over to the presidential Blue House later Friday, Park will be stripped of her power and her No. 2, Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, will assume leadership until the country's Constitutional Court rules on whether Park must permanently step down. "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 at a Cabinet meeting after the vote.


South Korean President Park Geun-hye's impeachment Friday means she will be stripped of power _ but not the perks
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - South Korean President Park Geun-hye's impeachment Friday strips her of power - but not the perks. Even as her prime minister governs in her stead, Park gets to keep living at the presidential Blue House, using her official car and plane, collecting the same monthly salary (about $15,000 reportedly) and receiving round-the-clock security. She also holds onto the title "President." But with nothing officially to do, it's uncertain how she'll spend her days during the up-to-six months the country's Constitutional Court has to decide whether to accept the impeachment and formally end her presidency. In 2004, when President Roh Moo-hyun was impeached by lawmakers, he spent his time at the Blue House reading books and newspapers and mountain-climbing with journalists, according to South Korean media.


President-elect Donald Trump is tending to party politics on Friday, rallying supporters in Louisiana ahead of a Senate runoff election that could enhance his Republican majority
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. On Thursday Trump met in Columbus, Ohio, with the victims of an attack by a knife-wielding Ohio State University student. By evening he was at a rally in Des Moines, Iowa, alongside Iowa Gov.


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Hillary Clinton called the rise of fake news an 'epidemic' in her first speech since losing the presidential election to Donald Trump
WASHINGTON (AP) - Hillary Clinton decried the rise of fake news as an "epidemic" in her first speech since losing the presidential election last month. Clinton addressed fake news during a speech for retiring Nevada Sen. Harry Reid at the Capitol Thursday. Clinton warned that "it's now clear that so-called fake news can have real-world consequences," an apparent reference to an incident involving a gunman who fired multiple shots inside a Washington pizza shop that has become the target of a fake conspiracy story. Clinton said the issue "is not about politics or partisanship. Lives are at risk. Lives of ordinary people just trying to go about their days to do their jobs, contribute to their communities."


Defense Secretary Ash Carter has landed in Afghanistan for a surprise visit to U.S. troops
BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan (AP) - U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter on Friday made an unannounced visit to Afghanistan to consult with military commanders and deliver a pre-holiday pep talk to U.S. troops. It is Carter's last planned trip to Afghanistan before handing off his Pentagon responsibilities to his designated successor, retired Marine Gen. James Mattis. Carter is scheduled to meet later in the day with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. The U.S. has about 10,000 troops in Afghanistan to train and advise Afghan security forces combatting a resilient Taliban insurgency. U.S. special operations forces are hunting down al-Qaida and Islamic State militants.


Residents and opposition groups say Syrian troops and allied forces are shelling eastern Aleppo despite Russia's announcement that the Syrian army was suspending combat operations to allow for the evacuation of civilians from besieged rebel-held districts
BEIRUT (AP) - Syrian troops and allied forces shelled eastern Aleppo on Friday despite Russia's announcement that the Syrian army was suspending combat operations to allow for the evacuation of civilians from besieged rebel-held districts. Civilians continued to stream out of the ever-shrinking enclave, residents and opposition groups said, but efforts to evacuate hundreds of wounded people faltered despite pleas from medical officials earlier this week. Rebel defenses have crumbled in the face of a wide-ranging government offensive, which opened a number of fronts at once and was preceded by an intensive aerial campaign. More than three-quarters of the rebel sector has now fallen, including the symbolically important ancient Aleppo quarters.


With the Islamic State group's "caliphate" seemingly nearing its downfall in Iraq, the country's intelligence and counterterror agencies are preparing for a different fight against the militants
BAGHDAD (AP) - With the Islamic State group's "caliphate" seemingly nearing its downfall in Iraq, the country's security agencies are preparing for a different fight against the militants, shifting away from ground offensives to a focus on intelligence work, surgical airstrikes and a higher level of cooperation with the West. The new strategy is designed to counter an expected move by the Islamic State group away from holding territory and back to a more classic role as a dispersed, underground terror organization after it loses Mosul, its last major urban center in Iraq. Already, the militants are laying the groundwork for a strategy of hiding in remote areas, carrying out attacks in Iraq and abroad and resorting to organized crime to bankroll operations, intelligence and counterterrorism officials said.


Former astronaut and U.S. Sen. John Glenn has died in Ohio
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.


It took love, faith and a phone call to turn 3 neo-Nazis around
SCHLEIFE, Germany (AP) - Felix Benneckenstein was a rising star on Germany's far-right scene, a young songwriter whose rousing guitar anthems made white nationalism sound romantic and rebellious. But when fellow neo-Nazis attacked a friend, Benneckenstein found the doubts he'd ignored for years coming to the surface. "It was a rude awakening," he recalled. "You have an idea of what's wrong with the world and believe you've discovered hidden truths... And to then realize that everything you've done to yourself and others in the past years was built on lies is a bitter moment." After almost a decade on the far-right fringes, the 30-year-old is now part of a small but effective network of former neo-Nazis helping people to leave the scene.


A man who killed an Alabama convenience store clerk more than two decades ago has been put to death, an execution that required two consciousness tests as he heaved and coughed 13 minutes into the lethal injection
ATMORE, Ala. (AP) - A man who killed an Alabama convenience store clerk more than two decades ago was put to death Thursday night, an execution that required two consciousness tests as the inmate heaved and coughed 13 minutes into the lethal injection. Ronald Bert Smith Jr., 45, was pronounced dead at 11:05 p.m., about 30 minutes after the procedure began at the state prison in southwest Alabama. Smith was convicted of capital murder in the Nov. 8, 1994, fatal shooting of Huntsville store clerk Casey Wilson. A jury voted 7-5 to recommend a sentence of life imprisonment, but a judge overrode that recommendation and sentenced Smith to death.

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