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AP Top News at 9:20 a.m. EST

Putin sends air defense missiles to Syria to deter Turkey
President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered state-of-the art air defense missile systems to be deployed at a Russian air base in Syria following the downing of one of its warplanes by Turkey, a move that raised the threat of a military confrontation between the NATO member and Moscow. The S-400 missile systems will be sent to the Hemeimeem air base in Syria?s coastal province of Latakia, located about 50 kilometers (30 miles) south of the border with Turkey. The systems are capable of targeting Turkish jets with deadly precision. If Russia shot down a Turkish plane, NATO would be required to intervene.

Chicago awaits more protests over police shooting
CHICAGO (AP) - The white officer who shot a black Chicago teen 16 times has been charged with murder and jailed. The graphic video of the slaying has been made public. And in the hours after the footage was released, protesters seemed to honor pleas for restraint. The question now is whether those efforts will be enough to address the simmering resentment that authorities took more than a year to share the footage and charge the officer who emptied an entire magazine into the teen even after he had crumpled to the ground. City officials and community leaders had long braced for the release of the dash-cam video showing the death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.

10 Things to Know for Today
Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today: 1. RUSSIAN PILOT RESCUED BY SYRIAN COMMANDO UNIT Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu says the man is now "safe and sound" at the Russian air base in the government-controlled area in Syria. 2. RUSSIAN CRACKDOWN ON MUSLIMS FUELS EXODUS TO ISLAMIC STATE GROUP Thousands of young men in Russia's republic of Dagestan leave to join the militants in Syria in part because of the intimidating security presence and the culture of violence. 3. HOW MILITANTS NAVIGATED BENEATH IRAQI TOWN Video footage shows a complex network of tunnels stocked with U.S.

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Russia crackdown on Muslims fuels exodus to Islamic State
Security forces keep devout Muslims under surveillance in places like Komsomolskoye, raiding their homes and hauling them in to provide DNA samples and fingerprints. Many in Dagestan, however, see the heavy-handed security presence as not only fueling an exodus to Syria of Islamic State recruits, but also serving to rid this part of predominantly Muslim southern Russia of potential militants by encouraging them to flee. The two decades of Russia?s war on Islamic insurgency in the North Caucasus, mainly in Chechnya and Dagestan, have fostered a generation of cut-throat Islamist fighters and given rise to a culture of violence and police profiling that has pushed conservative religious groups to the margins of society and into the jaws of the IS.

Afghan hospital said to be misidentified before being bombed
WASHINGTON (AP) - The crew of a U.S. warplane that attacked a medical charity's hospital in northern Afghanistan last month, killing and wounding dozens of civilians, misidentified the target, believing it to be a government compound taken over by the Taliban, according to an investigation report obtained Wednesday. The report said the crew of the U.S. AC-130 gunship relied on a physical description of the compound provided by Afghan forces, which led the crew to attack the wrong target. It said the intended target, thought to be under Taliban control and being used in part as a prison, was 450 yards away from the hospital.

Pope arrives in Kenya in pilgrimage to 3 African countries
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) - Pope Francis has arrived in Kenya for his first-ever visit to the continent, a whirlwind pilgrimage to three African nations. The Alitalia jetliner with the pope and his entourage aboard arrived Wednesday at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Kenya's capital, Nairobi. Francis was received by President Uhuru Kenyatta and Nairobi governor Evans Kidero and others amid singing by traditional dance groups. Francis is also scheduled to visit Uganda and the Central African Republic, which will mark the first time a pope has flown into an active armed conflict. Asked en route to Kenya if he was concerned about security risks, the pope quipped: "I'm more afraid of the mosquitos." Francis describes himself as a messenger of peace to a continent scarred by conflicts and extremist attacks.

Cheap gas fueling expanded Thanksgiving travel day
LOS ANGELES (AP) - An expanded version of America's annual Thanksgiving travel saga was under way Wednesday with gas prices low and terrorism fears high. An estimated 46.9 million Americans are expected to take a car, plane, bus or train at least 50 miles from home over the long holiday weekend, according to the motoring organization AAA. That would be an increase of more than 300,000 people over last year, and the most travelers since 2007. Among the reasons given for the increase: an improving economy and the cheapest gasoline for this time of year since 2008. On Tuesday, some travelers were gearing up for an early exit.

UN weather agency: It's record hot out there this year
WASHINGTON (AP) - Because of man-made global warming and a strong El Nino, Earth's wild weather this year is bursting the annual heat record, the World Meteorological Organization announced on Wednesday. The United Nations weather agency's early bird report on 2015 says it is the hottest year on record, surpassing last year's record heat. It made the proclamation without waiting for the end of the year because it has been so extraordinarily hot, forecast to stay that way and unlikely to cool down enough to not set a record. The report comes the week before world leaders assemble in Paris to try to negotiate an agreement to fight climate change.

Referees struggle with respect amid growing hostility
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) - Jimmy Woods has been a youth official for nearly 30 years, and he's lost count of how many football games he has refereed and how many times he's been yelled at, threatened or insulted. Oh, he remembers the details. He has been surrounded by angry parents following games, told he "has no integrity" by coaches and cursed at as recently as this season by players and fans at a private high school in Little Rock. "People don't respect the emblem anymore," said Woods, a 50-year-old firefighter who officiates games on the side. "They think you're out to get them or cheat them." Violence against referees is as old as sport itself, and most are familiar with awful stories from lower-division soccer matches in Europe or South America.