AP Nation / World

AP Top News at 12:42 p.m. EDT

Post-election unity? Clinton and Trump won't say yet
WASHINGTON (AP) - With a dozen days left until Election Day, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are refusing to commit to working with each other after the election, putting in question their abilities to heal the country's wounds after a volatile presidential race. "I just want to make that decision at a later date," said Trump, when asked whether he would cooperate with a Clinton administration. "Hopefully I won't have to make that decision." He spoke in an interview broadcast Thursday on ABC's "Good Morning America." Clinton, meanwhile, dodged a question about whether she would meet one-on-one with Trump after the election.

Early voting: More good signs for Clinton in key states
WASHINGTON (AP) - The millions of votes that have been cast already in the U.S. presidential election point to an advantage for Hillary Clinton in critical battleground states, as well as signs of strength in traditionally Republican territory. The strong early-voting turnout by those likely to support Clinton - registered Democrats, minorities, and young people among others - could leave Donald Trump with virtually no path to the 270 electoral votes needed for victory. Clinton is showing strength in Florida and North Carolina, both must-win states for Trump, as well as the battleground states of Nevada, Colorado and Arizona. There are even favorable signs for Clinton in Republican-leaning Utah and Texas.

Iraq special forces find IS bomb factory, tunnels near Mosul
KHAZER, Iraq (AP) - Iraqi special forces east of Mosul probed a network of underground tunnels and uncovered a bomb-making facility on Thursday in a village recently retaken from the Islamic State group as their allies battled the militants in a push toward the city from the south. Special forces commanders said the operation was proceeding as planned, but that they were waiting for forces in the south to advance further before resuming their push toward the country's second largest city, which fell to IS in 2014. "The operation has not been stopped and is proceeding as planned," special forces Brig.

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UN says school attack potential war crime
BEIRUT (AP) - The UN's children's agency on Thursday raised the death toll from a brutal attack the previous day on a school in Syria's rebel-held Idlib province to 28, including 22 children and six teachers, and suggested it may have been the deadliest attack on a school in the country's civil war. The airstrikes struck the village of Hass around midday Wednesday, hitting a residential compound that houses a school complex. The Syrian Civil Defense first responder team and the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Thursday that the airstrikes killed at least 35 people, mostly children.

Libya's navy says 90 migrants perished after boat fell apart
CAIRO (AP) - The Libyan navy said on Thursday that at least 90 migrants are believed to have perished when their rickety boat started to fall apart in the Mediterranean Sea, after leaving the Libyan coast. The boat, which was made of rubber, tore and began filling with water about 42 kilometers (26 miles) off the Libyan coast, an area considered to be international waters, said the spokesman for the navy, Ayoub Gassim. The Libyan coast guard rescued 29 survivors, who recounted that there were 129 of them in all on the boat, mostly African nationals, Gassim said. The migrants left Tajoura, in western Libya, before dawn on Wednesday morning, and the coast guard received a call for help around 3 p.m.

Powerful quakes wreak new havoc in Italian mountain towns
VISSO, Italy (AP) - Authorities scrambled to find housing Thursday for thousands of people displaced by a pair of strong earthquakes that struck the same region of central Italy hit by a deadly quake in August, hoping to prevent a second night for them on the street or in cars. The one-two punch packed by the quakes some two hours apart Wednesday evening meant many people were out of harm's way before the second, more powerful temblor, which toppled many historic buildings that had survived previous jolts. But no one was trapped in rubble and there were no reports of serious injuries.

Wal-Mart, Target each take cue from the other for holidays
NEW YORK (AP) - Wal-Mart and Target are each taking a cue from the other this holiday season. After years of emphasizing low prices, Wal-Mart wants to up the ante, but it also wants to be known for top customer service. Target, which has a better image in that regard, has stressed a focus on offering deals. The shift underscores how traditional retailers have to perfect every aspect of their operations as shoppers who could easily shop online instead become more demanding about price, selection and service. With online leader Amazon.com cementing customers with its juggernaut Amazon Prime shipping service, retailers like Target and Wal-Mart need to offer more exclusive merchandise.

NYC firefighter stages dramatic rescue in fatal blaze
NEW YORK (AP) - As roaring flames consumed an apartment building in New York City early Thursday, a firefighter dangling from a rope plucked a trapped person from a window on the fifth floor and safely lowered him to the ground. Firefighter Jim Lee told reporters at the scene that the rope that colleagues had used to drop him from the roof burned through just 15 seconds after he touched the earth. "I told him to stay calm and when we got down, I said, 'I hope you enjoyed the ride,'" Lee said. "He sort of smiled and he was thankful." The overnight blaze at the building on Manhattan's Upper East Side killed one person, officials said.

Weed as way of life: California farmers divided on legal bud
GARBERVILLE, Calif. (AP) - Laura Costa's son and husband moved quickly with the pruning shears to harvest the family's fall marijuana crop, racing along with several workers to cut the plants and drop them in plastic bins ahead of an impending storm. The rain could invite "bud rot," Costa said, "a big no-no." The farm, hidden along a winding mountain road in a remote redwood forest, is just one of many illegal "grows" that make up Northern California's famous Emerald Triangle, a rural region that developed over decades into a marijuana-producing mecca at the intersection of Humboldt, Mendocino and Trinity counties.

Modest gains, but US students still lag in science learning
WASHINGTON (AP) - The vast majority of U.S. students still lack a solid grasp of science despite some modest gains by fourth and eighth graders, especially girls and minorities. The problem is particularly acute among the nation's high school seniors. The 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress, often called the Nation's Report Card, released Thursday shows only about a third of fourth and eighth graders demonstrated strong academic performance in the sciences. Among 12th graders, just one in five were proficient or above in science. "We still are not at a place as a country where we are preparing the future STEM workforce that we need," Education Secretary John B.