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AP Top News at 5:04 a.m. EST

Investigators search for clues in fatal fire, friends mourn
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - As investigators searched for signs of a crime in the fire that killed at least 33 in an Oakland warehouse during a late-night dance party, survivors and teary-eyed friends of those who perished viewed the charred building from a distance, placed flowers on several small memorials and embraced each other to mourn their losses. Bouquets of sunflowers, single white roses, lilies and carnations were stuck in chain-link fences, votive candles burned on sidewalks and post-it notes paid tribute to the missing and the dead in the most lethal building fire in the U.S. in more than a decade.


After major victory, ND pipeline protesters to defy deadline
CANNON BALL, N.D. (AP) - Protesters celebrated a major victory in their push to reroute the Dakota Access oil pipeline away from a tribal water source but pledged to remain camped on federal land in North Dakota anyway, despite Monday's government deadline to leave. Hundreds of people at the Oceti Sakowin, or Seven Council Fires, encampment cheered and chanted "mni wichoni" - "water is life" in Lakota Sioux - after the Army Corps of Engineers refused Sunday to grant the company permission to extend the pipeline beneath a Missouri River reservoir. The Standing Rock Sioux tribe and its supporters argue that extending the project beneath Lake Oahe would threaten the tribe's water source and cultural sites.


Beijing faces decision on how to respond to Trump's tweets
BEIJING (AP) - Chinese leaders face a challenge: How to deal with Donald Trump. Weeks before taking office, the incoming American president is riling Beijing with confrontation and online statements that appear to foreshadow a tougher foreign policy toward China. China awoke Monday to sharp criticism posted by Trump on Twitter, days after Beijing responded to his telephone conversation with Taiwan's president by accusing the Taiwanese of playing a "small trick" on Trump. Trump wrote, "Did China ask us if it was OK to devalue their currency (making it hard for our companies to compete), heavily tax our products going into their country (the U.S.


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Michigan to begin recount; legal fight moves to Pennsylvania
Presidential candidate Jill Stein's fight to force presidential recounts in three states focuses Monday on Pennsylvania, where her Green Party is seeking an emergency federal court order for a statewide recount, and Michigan, where a federal judge has ordered a hand recount to begin by noon. The recount is underway in Wisconsin. President-elect Donald Trump narrowly defeated Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in all three states. The recounts were not expected to change enough votes to overturn the result of the election. Stein says her intent is to verify the accuracy of the vote. She has suggested, with no evidence, that votes cast were susceptible to computer hacking.


Italy hit by market volatility after referendum defeat
MILAN (AP) - Italy was plunged into political and economic uncertainty following voters' resounding rebuke of Premier Matteo Renzi's proposed constitutional reforms. Renzi announced he would quit following Sunday's referendum vote, in which 60 percent of voters rejected his reforms and signaled they wanted a change in political direction. Renzi is expected to hand in his resignation to President Sergio Mattarella later Monday. The Milan Stock Exchange opened down 2 percent, but many bank shares were suspended due to excessive volatility meaning the hit could be even deeper. The results hit Italy's sovereign debt, increasing the spread on Italy's 10-year bonds to 2 percent, from 1.7 percent on Dec.


Children who lived through Pearl Harbor attack remember
HONOLULU (AP) - In some ways, it could be any class photo from the 1940s. The sepia-toned image shows 30 fifth-graders - 26 girls and four boys - at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School in Waikiki. Most are smiling, some look stern. A few have no shoes. Yet this picture is different in one striking way: Each child is holding a bag containing a gas mask, a sign of how war had suddenly broke apart the routines of their adolescence on Dec. 7, 1941. Three of the students, now in their mid-80s and all friends who have kept in touch over the years, reflected recently on the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor 75 years ago and the mark it left on their childhoods.


'We have lost everything': Syrians return to ravaged Aleppo
ALEPPO, Syria (AP) - Amina Hamawy burst into tears and then fainted when she returned to eastern Aleppo to find that looters had ransacked her home. "Where am I? What happened?" she asked after her husband and daughter revived her. "We have lost everything." They were among a few hundred residents who fled fighting in the Hanano neighborhood last month and were able to return after government forces drove out Syrian rebels, whose besieged and bombed out enclave in eastern Aleppo has begun to collapse. After registering with authorities, Hamawy's family was driven past blackened shells of buildings and mounds of rubble, devastation wrought by more than four years of near-daily airstrikes, including explosives-filled barrels dropped from helicopters.


As Iraq's Kurds eye statehood, a border takes shape
MAKHMUR, Iraq (AP) - The sand berms and trenches that snake across northern Iraq stretch toward Syria, some accompanied by newly paved roads lit by street lamps and sprawling checkpoints decked with Kurdish flags. The fighters here insist it isn't the border of a newly independent state - but in the chaos of Iraq that could change. Construction began in 2014, when this marked the front line between U.S.-backed Kurdish forces, known as the peshmerga, and the Islamic State group, which had swept across northern Iraq that summer, routing the army and threatening the Kurdish autonomous region. Since then, a more permanent boundary has taken shape as Kurdish aspirations for outright independence have grown.


Supreme Court takes up cases about race in redistricting
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court is taking up a pair of cases in which African-American voters maintain that Southern states discriminated against them in drawing electoral districts. The justices are hearing arguments Monday in redistricting disputes from North Carolina and Virginia. The claim made by black voters in both states is that Republicans created districts with more reliably Democratic black voters than necessary to elect their preferred candidates, making neighboring districts whiter and more Republican. A federal court struck down two North Carolina districts as unconstitutional because they relied too heavily on race. In Virginia, a court rejected a constitutional challenge to 12 state legislative districts.


Police: Fake news story led man to shoot inside pizza shop
WASHINGTON (AP) - A man who said he was investigating a conspiracy theory about Hillary Clinton running a child sex ring out of a pizza place fired an assault rifle inside the Washington, D.C., restaurant on Sunday injuring no one, police and news reports said. Metropolitan Police Department spokeswoman Aquita Brown said police received a call Sunday afternoon about a male with a weapon on Connecticut Avenue, in an affluent neighborhood of the nation's capital. Edgar Maddison Welch, 28 of Salisbury, North Carolina, walked into the front door of Comet Ping Pong and pointed a firearm in the direction of a restaurant employee, the Washington Post reported.