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AP Top News at 8:57 p.m. EST

Trump chooses hardliners but talks softer on immigration
NEW YORK (AP) - Donald Trump embraced new Cabinet officers Wednesday whose backgrounds suggest he's primed to put tough actions behind his campaign rhetoric on immigration and the environment, even as he seemed to soften his yearlong stance on immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children. It's clearer by the day, underscored by Trump's at-times contradictory words, that his actual policies as president won't be settled until after he takes his seat in the Oval Office. Retired Marine Gen. John Kelly has been selected to head the Department of Homeland Security, and Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, a climate-change denier whose policies have helped fossil fuel companies, is to be announced as head of the Environmental Protection Agency.


Trumps taps retired Marine general for homeland security
WASHINGTON (AP) - Retired Marine Gen. John Kelly carved out a reputation as a highly respected, but often outspoken commander who could roil debate with blunt assessments or unpopular directives on issues ranging from women in combat to the treatment of detainees at the Guantanamo Bay detention center. But the man chosen by President-elect Donald Trump to lead the Department of Homeland Security holds a more somber distinction. The battle-hardened veteran, who served three tours in Iraq, is the highest-ranking officer to lose a child in combat in Iraq or Afghanistan. That status, as part of what the military calls a Gold Star family, puts him in the Cabinet of a presidential candidate who verbally attacked a Gold Star family: the Khans, Muslim-American immigrants who lost a son in Iraq and had criticized Trump at the Democratic National Convention.


10 Things to Know for Thursday
Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Thursday: 1. HARDLINERS PICKED FOR HOMELAND SECURITY, EPA Trump embraces two new Cabinet officers whose backgrounds suggest he's primed to put tough actions behind his campaign rhetoric on immigration and the environment. 2. DEAD REMEMBERED AT PEARL HARBOR Thousands observe a moment of silence before fighter jets streak across the sky on the 75th anniversary of the attack that plunged the U.S. into World War II. 3. SYRIAN TROOPS MAKE GAINS IN ALEPPO Assad's forces capture new neighborhoods around the city center as rebel factions now face a punishing defeat.


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Syrian government advances despite rebel cease-fire offer
BEIRUT (AP) - Syria's government ignored a rebel cease-fire proposal for Aleppo on Wednesday as its forces captured new neighborhoods around the city center and squeezed some 200,000 tired and frightened civilians into a shattered and rapidly shrinking opposition enclave. Facing a punishing and brutal defeat, rebel factions proposed a five-day cease-fire for the eastern parts of the city to evacuate the wounded and civilians wishing to flee. "The artillery shelling is non-stop," a resident told The Associated Press by messaging service. He asked to conceal his name out of fear for his safety. "The humanitarian situation is really tough. There are corpses on the streets.


Crowd honors 'gift of freedom' from Pearl Harbor servicemen
PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (AP) - Thousands of people observed a moment of silence before fighter jets streaked across the sky during a ceremony Wednesday at Pearl Harbor marking the 75th anniversary of the attack that plunged the United States into World War II and left more than 2,300 service people dead. The crowd bowed their heads at the precise moment decades ago when Japanese planes began their assault on the harbor's U.S. naval base. And they stood and clapped when survivors joined active-duty servicemen and women and National Park Service rangers in dedicating wreaths to those killed. Attendees also gave a lengthy ovation to Adm.


Church attack survivor recalls loud noise, then darkness
CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - A survivor of last year's massacre at a black South Carolina church testified Wednesday that her Bible study group had just closed their eyes and started praying when a loud sound shattered the stillness. The basement room went dark. When Felicia Sanders opened her eyes, she saw a young white man the parishioners had welcomed to the study only a half-hour earlier. Dylann Roof was mowing down the pastor and eight others with gunfire and hurling racial insults. Sanders, the first witness in Roof's death penalty trial, fought back tears as she recalled sheltering her granddaughter under a table and telling her to play dead.


Rescuers comb Indonesia earthquake rubble for second day
MEUREUDU, Indonesia (AP) - Rescue workers, soldiers and police combed through the rubble of a devastated town in Indonesia's Aceh province early Thursday, resuming a search for earthquake survivors that was halted at night by rain and blackouts. Nearly 100 people died in the shallow and powerful quake that struck northeast Sumatra before dawn on Wednesday. Hundreds were injured and dozens of buildings were destroyed. The worst damage appears to be in Pidie Jaya district near the epicenter but assessments of the region are still underway. Some people spent the night outdoors while thousands of others took refuge in mosques and temporary shelters.


Somali-American lawmaker says she was harassed by cab driver
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - The nation's first elected Somali-American lawmaker says she was harassed and called "ISIS" by a taxicab driver in Washington, D.C. Minnesota Rep.-elect Ilhan Omar detailed the incident on her Facebook page on Wednesday. She said the cab driver called her ISIS, lobbed sexist taunts and threatened to remove her hijab during a brief ride on Tuesday after a White House meeting on criminal justice reform. She did not provide information about the driver. Omar, 33, says she is troubled by growing animosity toward Muslim people. Her campaign staff did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


Michigan recount over; Pennsylvania sets hearing
DETROIT (AP) - Michigan's presidential recount was halted Wednesday after three days, assuring Republican Donald Trump's victory in the state, when a federal judge said he'll abide by a court ruling that found the Green Party candidate Jill Stein couldn't seek another look at the vote. Meanwhile, the fate of Stein's request for a recount in Pennsylvania must wait at least until a federal court hearing on Friday, just four days before the Dec. 13 federal deadline for states to certify their election results. Trump narrowly defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton in both states and Wisconsin, which started its recount last week.


Renzi quits; search on for new leader to guide Italy to vote
ROME (AP) - Italian Premier Matteo Renzi resigned Wednesday evening, his self-inflicted penalty for staking his job on constitutional changes voters resoundingly rejected earlier in the week. He will stay in a caretaker's role at the request of Italy's president until a new government can be formed. Renzi had first offered his resignation on Monday, shortly after voters rejected the constitutional reforms his center-left government had championed. President Sergio Mattarella, Italy's head of state, told him to stay in office until Parliament completed approval of the 2017 national budget. A few hours after the budget was passed on Wednesday, Renzi returned to the Quirinal presidential palace.


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