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Assad relies on foreign fighters in push to retake Aleppo
ALEPPO, Syria (AP) - Syria's President Bashar Assad is on the verge of recapturing all of Aleppo from rebels, but the victory won't be his alone. The battle for Syria's largest city has attracted thousands of foreign forces backing Assad - including Russian soldiers and Shiite fighters from Iran, Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan. The remarkable political and sectarian alignment underscores Aleppo's symbolic and strategic importance, which goes beyond the confines of Syria's civil war. Syria's former commercial center has long been regarded as a major gateway between Turkey and Syria. Assad has sent some of his most elite forces to take part in the offensive on eastern Aleppo neighborhoods, held by the rebels since 2012.


Preparing for White House, Trump to attend Army-Navy game
NEW YORK (AP) - President-elect Donald Trump is partaking in one the nation's most storied football rivalries, saluting U.S. troops at the annual Army-Navy game on Saturday as he prepares to enter the White House. The future commander-in-chief planned to attend the 117th game between the military academies at West Point and Annapolis, which is being held on relatively neutral ground, at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md. The appearance caps a week of rolling out Cabinet picks, holding "thank you" rallies in North Carolina, Iowa and Michigan, and trying to cement his incoming Senate majority with Saturday's runoff election in Louisiana.


After weeks of protests, crowds celebrate Park's impeachment
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - Shifting from protests to celebration, large crowds of South Koreans were expected to march near the presidential palace on Saturday to cheer the impeachment of disgraced President Park Geun-hye over an explosive corruption scandal. Protesters were planning to march to the palace where the notoriously aloof Park will remain mostly alone for up to six months until the Constitutional Court rules whether she should step down permanently. On Friday, South Korean lawmakers impeached Park, a stunning and swift fall for the country's first female leader. The vote came weeks after state prosecutors accused Park of colluding with a longtime friend to extort money and favors from companies and to give that confidante extraordinary sway over government decisions.


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At least 45,000 homeless after Aceh quake in Indonesia
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) - At least 45,000 people have been displaced by the powerful earthquake that hit Indonesia's Aceh province, authorities said Saturday, as the government and aid agencies pooled efforts to meet the basic survival needs of shaken communities. The estimate of the number of homeless people continues to grow while relief efforts fan out across the three districts near the epicenter of Wednesday's magnitude 6.5 quake, National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho told a press conference. "The basic needs of refugees must be met during the evacuation," the agency said in statement. Humanitarian groups are now coordinating their efforts from a main command post in the worst affected district Pidie Jaya, the agency said.


Shutdown averted, Senate backs stop-gap spending bill
WASHINGTON (AP) - With less than hour to spare, the Senate late Friday backed legislation averting a government shutdown as coal-state Democrats retreated on long-term health care benefits for retired miners but promised a renewed fight for the working class next year. The vote was 63-36 and sent the stop-gap spending bill to President Barack Obama, who signed the measure early Saturday morning. The Senate also passed and sent the president a $10 billion water bill with money for the California drought. The vote was 78-21. The votes came hours after Democrats dropped threats to block the spending measure in hopes of using the shutdown deadline to try to win a one-year respite for 16,500 miners facing the loss of health care benefits at year's end.


Obama orders review of election-season hacking
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama has ordered intelligence officials to conduct a broad review of election-season cyberattacks, including the email hacks that rattled the presidential campaign and raised fresh concerns about Russia's meddling in U.S. elections, the White House said Friday. The review, led by intelligence agencies, will be a "deep dive" into a possible pattern of increased "malicious cyber activity" timed to the campaign season, White House spokesman Eric Schultz said. The review will look at the tactics, targets, key actors and the U.S. government's response to the recent email hacks, as well as incidents reported in past elections, he said.


Dylann Roof laughed during church slaying confession to FBI
CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - Dylann Roof wanted the world to know he hated black people and thought they were criminals. He thought about attacking drug dealers, but they might shoot back. So, he told the FBI, he picked a historic black church in Charleston he had learned about online. In a videotaped confession shown Friday during his death penalty trial, Roof laughed several times and made exaggerated gun motions as he recounted the massacre. He explained that he wanted to leave at least one person alive to tell what happened and complained that his victims "complicated things" when they hid under tables.


John Glenn, astronaut and senator, to lie in state in Ohio
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - John Glenn will lie in state in Ohio's capitol building before a celebration of his life of military and government service and two history-making voyages into space. The public viewing at the Ohio Statehouse and a memorial service at Ohio State University's Mershon Auditorium are planned for late next week. The dates and times were being worked out Friday, said Hank Wilson, of the John Glenn College of Public Affairs. Statehouse officials meet Monday to authorize the public viewing. Glenn, who died Thursday at age 95, was the first American to orbit the Earth, in 1962, and was the oldest man in space, at age 77 in 1998.


Inside Kirk Douglas's intimate 100th birthday celebration
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) - Kirk Douglas knows how to make an entrance. With boxing gloves in every centerpiece and the theme from "Rocky" blaring over the speakers, Douglas, one of the golden age of Hollywood's last living legends, walked confidently into the Sunset Room at the Beverly Hills Hotel Friday afternoon to celebrate his 100th birthday at an intimate gathering of friends and family. Flanked by Anne Douglas, his wife of over 62 years, his son Michael Douglas, his daughter-in-law Catherine Zeta-Jones and his grandchildren, Kirk Douglas looked out over the crowd of about 150 people, including Don Rickles, Jeffrey Katzenberg, his Rabbi and many of his closest friends and smiled.


Analysis: Most troubling is Russia's reaction to scandal
Troubling as the details of the McLaren Report were, a news item out of Russia earlier this week was equally so. The new chair of the country's "revamped" anti-doping agency will be Yelena Isinbayeva, the pole vault great who has spent the past year thumbing her nose at all the evidence and at those who've dared to mete out punishment for the malfeasance. Isinbayeva's appointment to the RUSADA board, made a mere two days before Part 2 of the McLaren report arrived, was all you needed to conclude that either Russia does not fully grasp the depths of depravity that Richard McLaren painstakingly detailed in his 144-page report or, maybe worse, that it just doesn't care.