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AP Top News at 7:13 p.m. EST

So long from White House: Obama aims final messages at Trump
WASHINGTON (AP) - Barack Obama stepped behind the White House podium for the last time Wednesday, fielding questions from the crush of journalists crammed in for the occasion and offering assurances to Americans watching on TV. But at times, his answers seemed aimed at an audience of one: The man who will replace him at noon on Friday. Obama gently chided Donald Trump's suggestion that the U.S. might end its sanctions on Russia over Ukraine in exchange for nuclear stockpile reductions, saying it was in America's interest to make sure "we don't confuse why these sanctions have been imposed with a whole set of other issues." And, with Trump vowing to move the U.S.


Price tries to reassure on health care; Dems not buying it
WASHINGTON (AP) - Offering reassurances, President-elect Donald Trump's pick for health secretary said Wednesday the new administration won't "pull the rug out" from those covered by "Obamacare." Democrats were unimpressed, noting a lack of specifics. Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., also told the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee that Trump is "absolutely not" planning to launch an overhaul of Medicare as he tries to revamp coverage under President Barack Obama's signature health care law. He acknowledged that high prescription drug costs are a problem, but did not endorse the idea of government directly negotiating prices. Throughout the nearly four-hour hearing, Democrats peppered Price with questions about his stock trades.


In break with Trump, EPA pick says climate change isn't hoax
WASHINGTON (AP) - Donald Trump's choice to head the Environmental Protection Agency said Wednesday that climate change is real, breaking with both the president-elect and his own past statements. In response to questions from Democrats during his Senate confirmation hearing, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt said he disagreed with Trump's earlier claims that global warming is a hoax created by the Chinese to harm the economic competitiveness of the United States. "I do not believe climate change is a hoax," Pruitt said. The 48-year-old Republican has previously cast doubt on the extensive body of scientific evidence showing that the planet is warming and man-made carbon emissions are to blame.


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Former President George H.W. Bush and wife hospitalized
HOUSTON (AP) - Former President George H.W. Bush was admitted Wednesday to the intensive care unit of a Houston hospital with pneumonia, and his wife, Barbara, was hospitalized as a precaution after suffering fatigue and coughing, a spokesman said. The 92-year-old former president, who had been hospitalized since Saturday, underwent a procedure "to protect and clear his airway that required sedation," family spokesman Jim McGrath said in a statement. Bush was stable and resting comfortably at Houston Methodist Hospital, where he was to stay for observation, the statement said. The 41st president was placed in the ICU to address "an acute respiratory problem stemming from pneumonia," McGrath said.


No word from Jammeh as midnight deadline arrives in Gambia
DAKAR, Senegal (AP) - After more than two decades in power, Gambian President Yahya Jammeh faced the prospect of a military intervention by regional forces, as the man who once pledged to rule the West African nation for a billion years clung to power. A few minutes after a midnight deadline set by the West African regional bloc to step down, there was no word from Jammeh. Earlier, a military commander with the regional bloc known as ECOWAS announced that troops were positioning along Gambia's borders. "The mandate of the president is finished at midnight," declared Seydou Maiga Moro, speaking on Senegalese radio station RFM.


Trump's America: Rural-urban divide in Georgia
LULA, Ga. (AP) - Patti Thomas owns a flower shop in the north Georgia town of Lula. Xavier Bryant runs an independent pharmacy just outside Atlanta. Looking toward the inauguration of an entrepreneur as president, the two share this expectation: Donald Trump will be good for business. "He's already proven he can turn things around," the 52-year-old Thomas says, crediting Trump with Ford Motor Co.'s recent announcement that it would scrap a planned Mexico plant while expanding in Michigan. "Just his business enthusiasm, we've been lacking that." "My intuition," the 33-year-old Bryant agrees, "is telling me that small business owners will win" in Trump's economy.


Earth sets hottest year record for third-straight time,
WASHINGTON (AP) - Earth sizzled to a third-straight record hot year in 2016, with scientists mostly blaming man-made global warming with help from a natural El Nino that's now gone. Two U.S. agencies and international weather groups reported Wednesday that last year was the warmest on record. They measure global temperatures in slightly different ways, and came up with a range of increases, from minuscule to what top American climate scientists described as substantial. They're "all singing the same song even if they are hitting different notes along the way. The pattern is very clear," said Deke Arndt of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.


Denver starts work on allowing pot in public, a first in US
DENVER (AP) - Denver is starting work Wednesday on becoming the first city in the nation to allow marijuana clubs and public pot use in places such as coffee shops, yoga studios and art galleries. Voters narrowly approved the "social use" measure last November. But the ballot proposal didn't spell out many rules for how the marijuana could be consumed, beyond saying that the drug can't be smoked inside and that patrons must be over 21. A workgroup made up of Denver business owners, city pot regulators and marijuana opponents starts work on suggesting regulations in the afternoon. The state Liquor Control Board already has decreed that no businesses with a liquor license can allow marijuana use.


Study illustrates Facebook's growth as campaign news source
NEW YORK (AP) - Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton voters had different media diets, but a study finds common ground in Facebook as an important news source - even if their individual feeds bore little resemblance to each other's. Facebook was the top non-television source for election news cited by supporters of both candidates, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center. The social media site's import as a driver of political news has been underscored by the lingering controversy of people using it to spread false news stories. Eight percent of Clinton voters and 7 percent of Trump voters named Facebook as their main source of election news, Pew said.


Bagwell, Raines, Ivan Rodriguez elected to Hall of Fame
NEW YORK (AP) - Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez were elected to baseball's Hall of Fame on Wednesday, earning the honor as Trevor Hoffman and Vladimir Guerrero fell just short. Steroids-tainted stars Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens were passed over for the fifth straight year by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. But they received a majority of votes for the first time and could be in position to gain election in coming years. Bagwell , on the ballot for the seventh time after falling 15 votes short last year, received 381 of 442 votes for 86.2 percent. Players needed 75 percent, which came to 332 votes this year.

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