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AP Top News at 12:01 p.m. EST

Trump aides debate which version of vulgarity Trump uttered
WASHINGTON (AP) - As the fallout over President Donald Trump's use of a vulgarity bleeds into a second week, aides to the president are locked in an internal debate over which version of the word the president used to describe certain countries during immigration talks with senators. Trump was said to have uttered "shithole" during last Thursday's conversation in the Oval Office, a version backed up by Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and some Republicans. Asked about Trump's comments challenging his honesty, Durbin told reporters Tuesday: "I stand by every word I said about what was said." But Homeland Security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen testified under oath Tuesday that she "did not hear" President Donald Trump use the vulgarity to describe African countries.


Parents arrested after children found chained in house
PERRIS, Calif. (AP) - A 17-year-old girl called police after escaping from her family's home where she and her 12 brothers and sisters were locked up in filthy conditions, some so malnourished officers at first believed all were children even though seven are adults. The girl, who was so small officers initially believed she was only 10, called 911 and was met by police who interviewed her and then went to the family home in Perris, about 70 miles southeast of Los Angeles. They found several children shackled to their beds with chains and padlocks in dark, foul-smelling surroundings, according to the Riverside County Sheriff's Department.


Pope begs forgiveness for 'irreparable' harm from sex abuse
SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) - Pope Francis begged for forgiveness Tuesday for the "irreparable damage" done to children who were raped and molested by priests, opening his visit to Chile by diving head-first into a scandal that has greatly hurt the Catholic Church's credibility here and cast a cloud over his visit. Francis faced controversy on another front as well: Overnight three more Catholic churches were torched, including one burned to the ground in the southern Araucania region where Francis will visit on Wednesday to meet with Chile's indigenous peoples. While not causing any injuries, the nine church firebombings in the past few days have marked an unprecedented level of protest against history's first Latin American pope on his home turf.


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Sexual abuse victim to ex-doctor: 'You are a repulsive liar'
LANSING, Mich. (AP) - One of the dozens of victims expected to testify at the sentencing hearing of a disgraced former Michigan sports doctor on Tuesday described the sexual abuse Larry Nassar inflicted on her as a child and warned him that "little girls don't stay little forever." Kyle Stephens was the first of nearly 100 women and girls who will be allowed to speak or will have their statements read by others during the extraordinary four-day hearing in Lansing, Michigan. Nassar pleaded guilty to molesting females with his hands at his Michigan State University office, his home and a Lansing-area gymnastics club.


Trump ends 1st year with lowest average approval rating
WASHINGTON (AP) - This is a record not to be coveted: Donald Trump is wrapping up a year in office with the lowest average approval rating of any elected president in his first term. That's according to polling by Gallup, which shows that Trump has averaged just a 39 percent approval rating since his inauguration. The previous low was held by Bill Clinton, whose first-year average stood 10 points higher than Trump's, at 49 percent. Recent surveys show most Americans view Trump as a divisive figure and even question his fitness for office. One relative bright spot for Trump is his handling of the economy, though even there his ratings are not as high as might be expected given a relatively strong economy.


Japan public TV sends mistaken North Korean missile alert
TOKYO (AP) - Japan's public broadcaster mistakenly sent an alert Tuesday warning citizens of a North Korean missile launch and urging them to seek immediate shelter, then minutes later corrected it, days after a similar error in Hawaii. NHK television issued the message on its internet and mobile news sites as well as on Twitter, saying North Korea appeared to have fired a missile at Japan. It said the government was telling people to evacuate and take shelter. "North Korea appears to have fired a missile," NHK said, adding that a government warning had been issued. "The government: Seek shelter inside buildings and basements." The false alarm came just days after Hawaii's Emergency Management Agency sent a mistaken warning of a North Korean missile attack to mobile phones across the state, triggering panic.


House panel interviewing Bannon after his fall from power
WASHINGTON (AP) - Steve Bannon, the onetime close confidant to President Donald Trump, arrived early Tuesday for his interview before the House Intelligence Committee. His interview follows his spectacular fall from power after being quoted in a book that he sees the president's son and others as engaging in "treasonous" behavior for taking a meeting with Russians during the 2016 campaign. In Michael Wolff's "Fire and Fury," Bannon accuses Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort of essentially betraying the nation by meeting with a group of Russian lawyers and lobbyists who they believed were ready to offer "dirt" on Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.


North Korea scoffs at Trump's 'nuclear button' tweet
TOKYO (AP) - North Korea's state-run media say U.S. President Donald Trump's tweet about having a bigger nuclear button than leader Kim Jong Un's is the "spasm of a lunatic." Rodong Sinmun, the ruling party newspaper, lashed out at Trump in a commentary on Tuesday that took issue with the U.S. commander in chief's Jan. 3 tweet that "I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!" A summary of the commentary by North Korea's official news agency described the tweet as "the spasm of a lunatic." "The spasm of Trump in the new year reflects the desperate mental state of a loser who failed to check the vigorous advance of the army and people of the DPRK," the Rodong Sinmun commentary said, using the acronym for North Korea's formal name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.


Analysis: With a vent at Trump, Abbas exits 'peace process'
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) - There seems to be no going back for Mahmoud Abbas after the Palestinian leader cursed and ridiculed President Donald Trump and his aides in a pugnacious speech - a very public break with the 82-year-old's long-standing efforts to cultivate Washington's goodwill as the sole pathway to Palestinian statehood. Abbas' pivot from quiet diplomacy to loudly challenging the U.S. and Israel brings him in line with his aggrieved public and quashes any last expectations of a U.S.-brokered peace deal, but could also unleash forces that might eventually bring down his self-rule government. Some questions and answers about the conflict: WHY THE OUTBURST?


The 'Boogie Oogie Oogie' band wins? Grammy's big shocks
NEW YORK (AP) - There was little doubt who should take home the album of the year Grammy in 1984. That was Michael Jackson with a little record called "Thriller." He won, of course, but the Recording Academy hasn't always been seen to make the right call over its 60 years. And you don't have to point to just Milli Vanilli to find some surprising decisions. Here are some others. STAR CROSSED The winner of album of the year honor in 1981 wasn't Barbra Streisand, Billy Joel, Frank Sinatra or Pink Floyd. The winner was soft rocker Christopher Cross, whose self-titled album contained the hit "Sailing." Streisand's album "Guilty" gave us "Woman in Love," the Joel record "Glass Houses" yielded "You May Be Right" ''Don't Ask Me Why" and "It's Still Rock and Roll to Me," the Sinatra album "Trilogy: Past, Present, Future" contained his classic version of "New York, New York" and the double-LP "The Wall" is considered by Rolling Stone magazine to be among the top 100 greatest albums of all time.

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