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AP Top News at 11:29 a.m. EST

Obama says Russia may finally come around on Assad's future
PARIS (AP) - President Barack Obama expressed optimism Tuesday that Russia will ultimately come around on the need for Syrian President Bashar Assad to leave power to end his country's long civil war, but warned the turnaround would not come overnight. Discussing the Syria crisis with world leaders in Paris, Obama also urged Turkey and Russia to set aside recent tensions that have undermined his efforts to strengthen the U.S.-led coalition fighting defeating the Islamic State group. Instead, he asked the two countries to focus on IS as a common enemy and on reaching a political solution for Syria. Obama's remarks on the sidelines of global climate talks came as the U.S.

Obama says parts of climate deal must be legally binding
PARIS (AP) - Parts of a global climate agreement being hammered out in Paris should be legally binding, President Barack Obama said Tuesday. His declaration was both a boost to climate negotiators seeking a tough accord and a challenge to Republican senators, many of whom don't believe that global warming is real. Whether or not to make the climate accord legally binding is a major sticking-point at the two-week talks in Paris, which aim to get all countries to agree to cut emissions that scientists say are warming the Earth and increasing extreme weather such as droughts and floods. Obama has spent months prodding other countries to make ambitious carbon-cutting pledges to the agreement, which would last long beyond the end of his presidency in early 2017.

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Appalachia grasps for hope as coal jobs fade
NEW YORK (AP) - The seams of coal in some of Eddie Asbury's mines in McDowell County are so thin workers can barely squeeze down them. They enter on carts nearly flat on their backs, the roof of the mine coursing by just a few inches in front of their faces. They don't stand up all day. To keep his business operating with such a paltry amount of coal, Asbury has to do everything himself. He has no use for the shiny, multimillion-dollar mining machines on display this fall at the biannual coal show nearby. His equipment is secondhand stuff that he repairs and refurbishes. The coal he and his workers scrape out of the mountain is washed and prepared for sale in a plant Asbury and a colleague built themselves.

U of Chicago threat came amid tension over police shooting
CHICAGO (AP) - The University of Chicago may have felt it had no choice but to take the extreme step of closing for an entire day after an online threat against whites on campus that authorities say was motived by the police shooting of a black teenager, security experts said. The city was on tenterhooks after last week's release of video of Officer Jason Van Dyke fatally shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times. Protests that followed, as well as heightened awareness about campus shootings elsewhere and the recent attacks in Paris, may have forced the university's hand, said one expert. It canceled classes and activities Monday but was expected to reopen Tuesday.

Rudder problem, pilot actions led to Indonesia AirAsia crash
A rudder control system problem that had occurred nearly two dozen times in the previous 12 months coupled with the pilots' response led to last year's crash of an AirAsia plane in Indonesia that killed all 162 people on board, investigators said Tuesday. In releasing their report, the country?s National Transportation Safety Committee said an analysis of Flight 8501's data recorder showed the rudder control system had sent repeated warnings to the pilots during the Dec. 28 flight from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore. Aircraft maintenance records for the Airbus A320 showed that similar problems with the rudder system had occurred 23 times during the year prior to the crash, including nine times in December.

Los Angeles deputy describes rescuing newborn buried alive
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Los Angeles County sheriff's Deputy Adam Collette knelt on the asphalt and heard the muffled cries of a baby who had been buried alive. He pried up two large pieces of asphalt, dug out loose dirt and plucked the newborn girl from the hole along a bike path, cradling her in his arms. "I think the baby had a sigh of relief, and so did I," Collette said Monday. "We kind of felt each other like, 'Hey, everything's going to be OK." The girl, estimated to be 24 to 36 hours old when she was found Friday, was healthy and in stable condition at a hospital.

Southern California man dies in crash hours after good deed
SAN DIEGO (AP) - A San Diego-area woman is working to honor the memory of a stranger who died hours after he paid for her groceries and asked her to "pay it forward." Matthew Jackson, of Oceanside, was killed in a crash on Nov. 11, less than 24 hours after he met Jamie-Lynne Knighten, KNSD-TV in San Diego reported (http://bit.ly/1Prk0aK ). Knighten was ahead of Jackson in line to pay for her groceries with her crying infant when her card was declined. That's when Jackson stepped up and offered to foot the bill, which came to more than $200. The 28-year-old wanted one thing in return.

Scientists debate boundaries, ethics of human gene editing
WASHINGTON (AP) - Rewriting your DNA is getting closer to reality: A revolutionary technology is opening new frontiers for genetic engineering - a promise of cures for intractable diseases along with anxiety about designer babies. Hundreds of scientists and ethicists from around the world are gathering in Washington this week to debate the boundaries of human gene editing, amid worry that the fast-moving research may outpace safety and ethics scrutiny. It's a question that gained urgency after Chinese researchers made the first attempt at editing genes in human embryos, a laboratory experiment that didn't work well but did raise the prospect of one day altering human heredity - passing modified DNA to future generations.

Ravens win as time expires on blocked field goal return
CLEVELAND (AP) - Will Hill returned a blocked field goal 64 yards for a touchdown as time expired, giving the Baltimore Ravens a 33-27 win Monday night over the luckless Cleveland Browns, who lost their sixth straight game along with starting quarterback Josh McCown. Cleveland's Travis Coons lined up to kick a potential game-winning 51-yard field goal with 3 seconds to go, but it was deflected by defensive end Brent Urban, who was playing his first NFL game for the injury-riddled Ravens (4-7). Hill scooped it up and rumbled down the left sideline for an improbable win, stunning a Cleveland (2-9) crowd which moments earlier was ready to celebrate.

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