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AP Top News at 2:42 a.m. EST

Japan PM pledges 'unchanging' allegiance to US under Trump
TOKYO (AP) - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Friday that he plans to visit the U.S. as soon as possible to meet with incoming U.S. President Donald Trump. Speaking on the eve of Trump's inauguration, he called the U.S.-Japan alliance an "unchanging principle" for his country's foreign and security policy. His urgency to meet Trump reflects worries in Japan about how Trump's "America first" policy will affect U.S. commitments to the Asia region, as well as fallout from any heightened tensions with China and North Korea. Abe was the first foreign leader to meet Trump after the U.S. election, making a stop in New York in November on his way to Latin America.


Inaugural cheers, fireworks: Trump sweeps in for his big day
WASHINGTON (AP) - With fireworks heralding his big moment, Donald Trump swept into Washington Thursday on the eve of his presidential inauguration and pledged to unify a nation sorely divided and clamoring for change. The capital braced for an onslaught of crowds and demonstrators - with all the attendant hoopla and hand-wringing. "It's a movement like we've never seen anywhere in the world," the president-elect declared at a celebratory evening concert Thursday night with the majestic Lincoln Memorial for a backdrop. To the unwavering supporters who were with him from the start, he promised: "You're not forgotten any more. You're not forgotten any more."


Timing of Mexico drug lord's extradition seen as political
MEXICO CITY (AP) - Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman's abrupt exit to face charges in the U.S. marks the end of an era in which he was Mexico's most notorious drug cartel boss and, for some, the stuff of folk legend. It's also seen by many in Mexico as a delicately timed maneuver aimed at limiting political fallout for President Enrique Pena Nieto, already deeply unpopular in part for his perceived mishandling of Donald Trump's tough rhetoric on Mexico. Deputy Attorney General Alberto Elias Beltran, asked at a Thursday night news conference about the timing of Guzman's extradition, said the federal government cannot interfere in court decisions.


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Mexican drug kingpin "El Chapo" to appear in US courtroom
NEW YORK (AP) - Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, one of the world's most notorious drug kingpins, is finally headed for a court date the United States sought for two decades while he made brazen prison escapes and spent years on the run in Mexico. Extradited Thursday to face U.S. drug trafficking and other charges, Mexico's most wanted man was expected to appear in a federal court in New York Friday, the same day Donald Trump, who has lashed out at Mexico, is inaugurated as president. The Drug Enforcement Administration flew Guzman to New York from Ciudad Juarez late Thursday, according to federal officials.


Gambian leader told to cede power or be forced out
DAKAR, Senegal (AP) - Gambia's defeated President Yahya Jammeh must cede power by noon Friday or he will be dislodged by a regional force that has already moved into the country, West African officials said. If Jammeh refuses to leave Gambia by midday the regional troops will force him out, said Marcel Alain de Souza, chairman of the West African regional bloc, ECOWAS. A West African regional force including tanks moved into Gambia Thursday evening and has met no resistance, said de Souza. The regional force charged into Gambia after the inauguration of Adama Barrow as the country's new president and the U.N.


Search continues at Italian hotel hit by avalanche
FARINDOLA, Italy (AP) - Rescue crews are continuing the painstaking search for some 30 people trapped inside a remote Italian mountain resort flattened by a huge avalanche. Italy's civil protection agency on Friday said the search continued throughout the night with searchlights, and would accelerate with the arrival of daylight. So far two bodies have been recovered, and RAI state TV said two more bodies have been located in the snow. The search has been hampered by snow blocking the only road in, concern that the buildings would collapse and fear of triggering a fresh avalanche. The first rescue teams arrived on skis, and firefighters were dropped in by helicopter.


Farmers battered by Thailand floods find a golden upside
BANG SAPHAN, Thailand (AP) - Nature regularly taunts the farmers of Thailand by flooding their fields, but this time she's tossed some of them a potential safety net: the chance to pan for gold. Crops in Bang Saphan district, a rural community 240 kilometers (150 miles) south of Bangkok, were decimated by heavy flooding that affected much of southern Thailand in the week after New Year's. Villagers' opportunity to eke out a meager living diminished further when the waters destroyed a local market. Over generations, however, the villagers have learned to turn adversity into opportunity. More than two dozen people were searching for gold Thursday morning along the local canal, called Klong Thong, or "Golden Canal." Many brought food and family along, as well as pans for sifting and small glass bottles to hold whatever they might be lucky enough to find.


Brazil judge dies in crash ahead of corruption probe ruling
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) - Brazilian Supreme Court Justice Teori Zavascki's died in a small-plane crash just weeks before he was to rule on a major corruption case that could implicate high-ranking politicians in several Latin American countries. While the cause of the Thursday's crash off a popular Brazilian coastal town had not been determined, Zavascki held such an important role in the sprawling ``Car Wash'' investigation into a multibillion-dollar bribe scheme at the state oil company Petrobras that many Brazilians and even international groups like Transparency International immediately voiced fears of possible foul play and demanded a full investigation.


Scientists will live in a dome for 8 months to simulate Mars
HONOLULU (AP) - Six carefully selected scientists have entered a man-made dome on a remote Hawaii volcano as part of a human-behavior study that could help NASA as it draws up plans for sending astronauts on long missions to Mars. The four men and two women moved into their new simulated space home Thursday afternoon on Mauna Loa, settling into the vinyl-covered shelter of 1,200 square feet, or about the size of a small, two-bedroom home, for an eight-month stay. They will have no physical contact with people in the outside world and will work with a 20-minute delay in communications with their support crew, or the time it would take for an email to reach Earth from Mars.


Marathon bombing film productions won't detail tax credits
BOSTON (AP) - Hollywood films about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings shot on location at the finish line and other landmarks last year to bring the story to the silver screen, but not all the for-profit productions have been forthcoming about the taxpayer-funded benefits they're seeking or have already received for filming in Massachusetts. "Patriots Day," the $40 million film starring Mark Wahlberg that opened nationwide Jan. 13, sought state film tax credits, but production officials declined to provide more details when asked by The Associated Press. "Other locations would have been less expensive for us to film, but everyone involved in our production felt it was important to make 'Patriots Day' in Boston," spokeswoman Mariellen Burns said in an emailed statement.