AP Top News at 9:56 a.m. EDT

HK leader says China adamant; students seek talks
HONG KONG (AP) - Pro-democracy protesters demanded that Hong Kong's top leader meet with them, threatening wider actions if he did not, after he said Tuesday that China would not budge in its decision to limit voting reforms in the Asian financial hub. Chinese President Xi Jinping, who has taken a hard line against any perceived threat to the Communist Party's hold on power, meanwhile vowed in a National Day speech to "steadfastly safeguard" Hong Kong's prosperity and stability. He said Beijing believes Hong Kong will "create an even better future in the big family of the motherland."


Afghanistan, US sign long-awaited security pact
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - Afghanistan and the United States signed a security pact on Tuesday to allow U.S. forces to remain in the country past the end of year, ending a year of uncertainty over the fate of foreign troops supporting Afghanis as they take over responsibility for the country's security. Afghan, American and NATO leaders welcomed the deal, which will allow about 10,000 American troops to stay in the country after the international combat mission ends Dec. 31. Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai had refused to sign it despite U.S. threats of a full withdrawal in the absence of legal protections for American forces. U.S. officials have said that the delay in the deal's signing does not affect plans for next year.


Secret Service head faces questions on WH breach
WASHINGTON (AP) - Most Washington scandals that end up on Capitol Hill tend to end the same way: with an apology. Secret Service Director Julia Pierson will face lawmakers Tuesday for the first public accounting of the details surrounding an embarrassing and worrisome security breach at the White House earlier this month that, according to a congressman, was worse than the Secret Service has publicly acknowledged. The question is, will she follow the script?


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Hostage tale suggests IS wary of upsetting Turkey
SILOPI, Turkey (AP) - Turkish truck driver Ozgur Simsek was sleeping off a 1,000-kilometer (620-mile) fuel run to the Qayara power station in Iraq, he said, when he heard banging on his vehicle's door. "IS took over last night," the power plant's foreman shouted, referring to the Islamic State group. "Empty your trucks and run!"


Iraqi Arabs claim persecution by Kurds
KIRKUK, Iraq (AP) - When Sunni militants captured Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, in June, Abu Sara and his family feared their town of Taza, located some 50 kilometers southeast of the city, would inevitably be next. Government soldiers had dropped their weapons and abandoned their posts - forcing residents to fend for themselves. It wasn't before long before the gas was cut, then the water, ahead of the imminent onslaught. The family was left with little choice but to flee to the closest city that could offer them safe haven - Kurdish-dominated Kirkuk.


Virginia police: Forensic evidence links 2 cases
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - They both were walking alone, separated from their friends late at night on or near the University of Virginia campus. One was found dead nearly five years ago. The other is still missing. And now police believe they have found a link between the 2009 slaying of Morgan Harrington and the Sept. 13 disappearance of Hannah Graham: Forensic evidence found in the arrest of a hospital worker and former taxi driver who fled the state when he learned police wanted to question him about the Graham case.


3rd-graders face high-stakes reading targets
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - The games, ice cream and play rehearsals that 9-year-old Joshua Rowell experienced during summer school this year weren't just for fun. Joshua, like thousands of Ohio third-graders, had missed a state literacy target on a standardized test. He faced being held back in third grade unless his reading skills improved.


AP PHOTOS: Rush-hour keeps billions on the move
On packed subways and crowded highways, billions of people participate in a short-distance population shift twice a day: the rhythmic ritual of the daily commute to and from work. More than 300 million people use the United States' transport systems every day, and in 2012 a whopping 76 percent of them got to work by driving alone, a U.S. Department of Transportation report out last week noted. That can make for a lot of gridlock.


EBay to split off lucrative PayPal business
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) - EBay is splitting off its fastest growing segment, mobile payment service PayPal, the e-commerce company said Tuesday. Investors applauded the news, sending eBay's shares up nearly 7 percent in morning trading.


Slide, prayer by Chiefs player brings big buzz
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Husain Abdullah knew before he even reached the end zone he would drop to his knees in thankful prayer after intercepting Tom Brady in the fourth quarter of the Kansas City Chiefs' 41-14 victory over New England. He had no idea he would be penalized for it.