AP COVERAGE

AP Top News at 8:40 p.m. EST

Fire tears through Oakland dance party, killing at least 9
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - Firefighters struggled to get to bodies in the rubble Saturday after a fire tore through a converted Oakland warehouse during a late-night electronic music party, killing at least 9 people and making the charred structure unsafe for emergency crews to enter. Officials said they feared the death toll could rise as high as 40. Officials described the scene inside the warehouse, which had been illegally converted into artist studios, as a death trap that made it impossible for many partygoers to escape the Friday night fire. And a day later, the maze of debris and devastation was complicating efforts to extract the bodies.


Rain and sorrow accentuate memorial for dead at Brazil club
CHAPECO, Brazil (AP) - On a rainy Saturday that only accentuated the grief, 20,000 people filled a tiny stadium under umbrellas and plastic ponchos to say goodbye to members of the Chapecoense soccer club who died in a plane crash. The accident Monday in the Colombian Andes claimed most of the team's players and staff as it headed to the finals of one of Latin America's most important club tournaments. Seventy-one of the 77 people on board died, including 19 players on the team. Rain-soaked mourners jammed the modest stadium with four or five times that many outside to pay homage to a modest club that nearly reached the pinnacle of Latin American soccer.


Bergdahl seeks pardon from Obama to avert desertion trial
WASHINGTON (AP) - U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the former prisoner of war who's accused of endangering comrades by walking off his post in Afghanistan, is asking President Barack Obama to pardon him before leaving office. White House and Justice Department officials said Saturday that Bergdahl had submitted copies of the clemency request seeking leniency. If granted by Obama, it would allow Bergdahl to avert a military trial scheduled for April where he faces charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. The misbehavior charge carries a maximum penalty of life in prison. If the pardon isn't granted, Bergdahl's defense team said it will expand its legal strategy to the new administration by filing a motion arguing President-elect Donald Trump violated his due process rights with scathing public comments about the case.


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For now, Trump bears signs of a dealmaker, not a policymaker
WASHINGTON (AP) - He phones. He kibitzes. He cajoles. He threatens. He rewards. It's a freewheeling style that President-elect Donald Trump used to stop Carrier from shipping 800 jobs from an Indiana factory to Mexico. And it marks a radical shift from the measured words and scripted events that typify most presidents-elect. It's the agenda of a dealmaker, one who seems inclined to take a transactional, ad hoc approach to economic policy - offering some help to this company, perhaps directing a warning to others. Thursday's announcement by Carrier that it had reversed its decision to move certain jobs outside the country spotlighted Trump's inclination to personally intervene in the economy, down to a company's assembly line.


Trump shrugs off fuss over Taiwan call
BEIJING (AP) - President-elect Donald Trump is unapologetic about roiling diplomatic waters with his decision to speak on the phone with Taiwan's leader, a breach of long-standing tradition that risks enmity from China. The U.S. severed diplomatic ties with the self-governing island in 1979 but has maintained close unofficial relations and a commitment to support its defense. Trump's conversation with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen drew an irritated, although understated, response from China, as Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Saturday that the contact was "just a small trick by Taiwan" that he believed would not change U.S. policy toward China, according to Hong Kong's Phoenix TV.


Campus attack could be latest terror case in heartland state
CINCINNATI (AP) - Authorities are investigating terrorism as a possible motive in the car-and-knife attack on the Ohio State University campus, the latest in a series of cases involving young men who apparently became radicalized in the heartland state. They are still piecing together information on the activities of Abdul Razak Ali Artan, the Ohio State student killed Nov. 28 by a police officer after he ran his car into others and began slashing with a butcher knife. Among other recent cases that left people close to the suspects stunned, one man has been sentenced to 20 years in prison, another will be sentenced Monday and another was arrested last month.


Raul Castro: Cuba will ban naming of monuments after Fidel
SANTIAGO, Cuba (AP) - Cuban President Raul Castro said Saturday that his government will prohibit the naming of streets or public monuments after his brother Fidel in keeping with the former leader's desire to avoid the development of a personality cult. The younger Castro told a crowd gathered to pay homage to Fidel Castro in the eastern city of Santiago that the country's National Assembly would pass in its next session a law fulfilling his brother's desire that, "once dead, his name and likeness would never be used on institutions, streets, parks or other public sites, and that busts statutes or other forms of tribute would never be erected."


Syrian and allied troops advance in besieged Aleppo
ALEPPO, Syria (AP) - Syrian warplanes, artillery and mortar rounds pounded areas in eastern Aleppo on Saturday drawing rebel rockets, as government troops gain new ground in the shrinking opposition-held enclave. After four years of holding nearly half of the divided city, rebel fighters have been increasingly squeezed into the center of the eastern enclave. Government and allied troops, including Lebanese, Iraqi and Iranian fighters, have concentrated their fight on the northeastern part of the enclave, swiftly taking new districts since their offensive began last week. Another front on the southern outskirts of the city has been slower, as rebel fighters push back government advances there.


Green Party drops bid for statewide Pennsylvania recount
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Green Party-backed voters dropped a court case Saturday night that had sought to force a statewide recount of Pennsylvania's Nov. 8 presidential election, won by Republican Donald Trump, in what Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein had framed as an effort to explore whether voting machines and systems had been hacked and the election result manipulated. The decision came two days before a court hearing was scheduled in the case. Saturday's court filing to withdraw the case said the Green Party-backed voters who filed the case "are regular citizens of ordinary means" and cannot afford the $1 million bond ordered by the court by 5 p.m.