AP Top News at 6:51 p.m. EDT

Mexico quake rescuers race to free girl, other survivors
MEXICO CITY (AP) - The wiggling fingers of a young girl trapped in the rubble of her collapsed school in Mexico City raised hopes among hundreds of rescuers working furiously Wednesday to try to free her - a drama that played out at dozens of buildings toppled by the powerful earthquake that killed at least 223 people. But it was the ongoing rescue at the Enrique Rebsamen school, where 25 people including 21 children perished, that was seen as emblematic of Mexicans' rush to save survivors before time runs out. Helmeted workers spotted the girl buried in the debris early Wednesday and shouted to her to move her hand if she could hear.


Maria destroys homes, triggers flooding in Puerto Rico
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) - The strongest hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in over 80 years destroyed hundreds of homes, knocked out power across the entire island and triggered heavy flooding Wednesday in an onslaught that could plunge the U.S. territory deeper into financial crisis. Leaving at least nine people dead in its wake across the Caribbean, Hurricane Maria blew ashore in the morning in the southeast coastal town of Yabucoa as a Category 4 storm with winds of 155 mph (250 kph). It was expected to punish the island of 3.4 million people with life-threatening winds for 12 to 24 hours.


Trump to award Medal of Honor to Alabama veteran
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Donald Trump will award the Medal of Honor to a retired Army medic from Alabama who risked his life several times to provide medical care to his comrades during the Vietnam War, the White House announced Wednesday. Trump will award retired Army Capt. Gary M. Rose of Huntsville, Alabama, the nation's highest military honor for his actions in combat. Trump will honor Rose for his conspicuous gallantry during a White House ceremony on Oct. 23. The White House said Rose, 69, will be recognized for risking his life while serving as a medic with the 5th Special Force Group during combat operations in Vietnam in September 1970.


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Iranian president: Trump's UN comments 'ignorant, absurd'
UNITED NATIONS (AP) - Iran's president warned Wednesday that his country will "respond decisively" to any violation of the agreement that reins in its nuclear program and called U.S. President Donald Trump's "ignorant, absurd and hateful rhetoric" about Iran unfit for the United Nations. In remarks clearly directed at Trump's 8-month-old administration, Iranian leader Hassan Rouhani told the U.N. General Assembly: "It will be a great pity if this agreement were to be destroyed by rogue newcomers to the world of politics." "The world will have lost a great opportunity, but such unfortunate behavior will never impede Iran's course of progress and advancement," Rouhani said.


Lillian Ross, longtime New Yorker writer, dead at 99
NEW YORK (AP) - Lillian Ross, the ever-watchful New Yorker reporter whose close narrative style defined a memorable and influential 70-year career, including a revealing portrait of Ernest Hemingway, a classic Hollywood expose and a confession to an adulterous affair, has died at age 99. Ross died early Wednesday at Lenox Hill Hospital after suffering a stroke, New Yorker articles editor Susan Morrison said Wednesday. In an email statement to The Associated Press, New Yorker editor David Remnick called Ross a groundbreaking writer. "Lillian would knock my block off for saying so, she'd find it pretentious, but she really was a pioneer, both as a woman writing at The New Yorker and as a truly innovative artist, someone who helped change and shape non-fiction writing in English," Remnick wrote.


The Latest: Mexico moves quake death toll down to 223
Mexico's federal disaster agency is adjusting its death toll from this week's big earthquake. National Civil Defense Coordinator Luis Felipe Puente said in a tweet Wednesday that officials now count 223 dead - a reduction of two from the figure they gave earlier. He now says 93 people have died in Mexico City, 69 in neighboring Morelos state, 43 in Puebla, 13 in the State of Mexico, four in Guerrero and one in Oaxaca. Determining the number of casualties has been complicated by the diverse places where Tuesday's magnitude 7.1 quake hit and where victims were taken.


'I have decided,' Trump says of Iran deal _ before big talks
NEW YORK (AP) - "I have decided," President Donald Trump declared Wednesday, announcing he'd reached a verdict on the Iran nuclear deal's future even as top U.S. and Iranian officials headed into their highest-level talks of his presidency. Iran's leader, meanwhile, lashed out at "ignorant, absurd and hateful rhetoric" in response to Trump's blistering attack at the U.N. The jabbing between Trump and Iran's President Hassan Rouhani set the stage for a contentious meeting of the nuclear accord's parties. Trump has sent strong signals that he could walk away from the seven-nation agreement, which would potentially lead to new U.S. sanctions on Iran and its international trading partners.


Trump: GOP health bill short of votes before deadline
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Donald Trump said Wednesday the Republicans' last-resort "Obamacare" repeal effort remains two or three votes short, forecasting days of furious lobbying ahead with a crucial deadline looming next week. The legislation by Sens. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina would repeal major pillars of former President Barack Obama's health law, replacing them with block grants to states to design their own health care programs. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is trying to round up 50 votes to pass the legislation before Sept. 30, when special rules preventing a Democratic filibuster will expire. "We think this has a very good chance, Obamacare is only getting worse," Trump told reporters covering the U.N.


Worries of backlash help revive GOP health care drive
WASHINGTON (AP) - It's divisive and difficult, but the Republican drive to erase the Obama health care overhaul has gotten a huge boost from one of Washington's perennial incentives: Political necessity. In the two months since Senate Republicans lost their initial attempt to scuttle President Barack Obama's statute, there's fresh evidence GOP voters are adamant that the party achieve its long-promised goal of dismantling that law. This includes conservative firebrand Roy Moore forcing a GOP primary runoff against Sen. Luther Strange, R-Ala., who's backed by President Donald Trump and lots of money, plus credible primary challenges facing Republican Sens. Jeff Flake of Arizona and Nevada's Dean Heller.


Young girl hospitalized by 105 mph foul at Yankee Stadium
NEW YORK (AP) - A young girl at Yankee Stadium was injured by a 105 mph foul ball off the bat of Todd Frazier during Wednesday's game against Minnesota, leading some players to call for protective netting to be extended. The Yankees said the girl was taken to a hospital for treatment, and New York manager Joe Girardi said he had been told by team security that she was OK. The game was delayed for about 4 minutes while she was attended to and then carried from the seats in the bottom of the fifth inning. A shaken Frazier crouched with his hands over his face.