AP News in Brief at 9:04 p.m. EST




Trump assails recount push, claims millions voted illegally

NEW YORK (AP) — President-elect Donald Trump claimed without evidence Sunday that "millions" voted illegally in the national election, scoffing at Hillary Clinton's nearly 2 million edge in the popular vote and returning to his campaign mantra of a rigged race even as he prepares to enter the White House in less than two months.

Trump and his lieutenants assailed an effort — now joined by Clinton — to recount votes in up to three battleground states, calling the push fraudulent, the work of "crybabies" and, in Trump's estimation, "sad."

The president-elect himself launched a Twitter offensive that spanned more than 12 hours on Sunday, casting a shadow over the legitimacy of an election that he actually won.

"I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally," he tweeted in the afternoon before alleging in an evening tweet "serious voter fraud in Virginia, New Hampshire and California." Trump's transition team did not respond to questions seeking evidence of the unfounded claims.

There's been no indication of widespread vote manipulation, illegal voting or hacking that materially affected the outcome one way or the other. It's that very lack of evidence that suggests Trump is likely to prevail in recounts.

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Trump aide steps up bid to block possible Romney nomination

WASHINGTON (AP) — A top Donald Trump adviser warned Sunday that the president-elect's supporters would feel "betrayed" if he tapped former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney as secretary of state, a move that would put a once-fierce Trump critic in a powerful Cabinet post.

The comments from Kellyanne Conway deepened a highly unusual push by some Trump allies to stop the president-elect from nominating Romney. The extraordinary public nature of the effort has also stirred speculation that it could be a Trump-approved attempt to humiliate a prominent Republican who staunchly opposed him throughout the presidential campaign.

Conway, who served as Trump's campaign manager and is part of his transition team, said her opposition to Romney reflected what she's been hearing from Trump voters.

"People feel betrayed to think that Gov. Romney, who went out of his way to question the character and the intellect and the integrity of Donald Trump, now our president-elect, would be given the most significant cabinet post of all," Conway said in one of several television interviews Sunday. She said Romney was "nothing but awful" to Trump for a year.

Conway's opposition to Romney is also said to be supported by Steve Bannon, the controversial conservative media executive who will serve as Trump's White House senior adviser.

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In Cuba, tourists find historic moment and limited options

HAVANA (AP) — They came for salsa music and mojitos and ended up wandering through a city turned still and silent by nine days of national mourning for Fidel Castro.

As Cuba prepares a massive commemoration for the leader of its socialist revolution, tens of thousands of high-season travelers have found themselves accidental witnesses to history — and smack in the middle of a somber city that's little like its usual exuberant self.

"Who knows what tomorrow or after nine days brings in terms of the country and what happens for the future," said Graham Palmer, a 36-year-old financial director from London. "And I think we will certainly look back at the airport tomorrow and feel quite privileged that we've been here."

"We picked up the (Communist Party) Granma paper from yesterday, so we've got that," said his companion, 36-year-old marketing worker Emma Taylor.

"I think we could quite even think about framing it," Palmer interjected. "It's quite poignant."

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Castro shunned statues, monuments but still became icon

There are no statues of Fidel Castro in Cuba. No school, street, government building or city bears his name. And while his likeness stares back from billboards and official portraits, it is absent from pesos and postage stamps.

As the island's unchallenged leader for nearly a half-century before falling ill in 2006, Castro forbade monuments in his honor mere weeks after his rebels toppled dictator Fulgencio Batista on New Year's Day 1959. He then spent decades railing against the idolatry encouraged by other communist leaders, such as Mao Zedong, Josef Stalin or North Korea's Kim family.

"There is no cult of personality around any living revolutionary," Castro said in 2003. "The leaders of this country are human beings, not gods."

Yet despite his distaste for such honors, the bearded Marxist stood as a globally recognized symbol of resistance to Washington and free-market capitalism, a hero to left-wing Latin American allies whose movements he helped inspire and an evil genius to his foes in Miami.

He was the most dominant figure in Cuba, and Cuban state media amplified his every public act or utterance.

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Miami Cuban celebration turns to reflection on Castro death

MIAMI (AP) — Celebration turned to somber reflection and church services Sunday as Cuban-Americans in Miami largely stayed off the streets following a raucous daylong party in which thousands marked the death of Fidel Castro.

One Cuban exile car dealer, however, sought to turn the revolutionary socialist's death into a quintessential capitalist deal by offering $15,000 discounts on some models.

And on the airwaves, top aides to President-elect Donald Trump promised a hard look at the recent thaw in U.S. relations with Cuba.

At St. Brendan Catholic Church in the Miami suburb of Westchester, a member of the chorus read a statement by Archbishop Thomas Wenski about Castro's death before the service. There was no overt mention of Castro during the Sunday Mass. But during the reading of the Prayers of the Faithful, one of the two priests celebrating the Mass prayed for "an end to communism, especially in Cuba and Venezuela."

"Lord, hear our prayers," churchgoers responded.

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Syrian army Aleppo advance displaces thousands

BEIRUT (AP) — Simultaneous advances by Syrian government and Kurdish-led forces into eastern Aleppo on Sunday set off a tide of displacement inside the divided city, with thousands of residents evacuating their premises, and threatened to cleave the opposition's enclave.

Rebel defenses collapsed as government forces pushed into the city's Sakhour neighborhood, coming within one kilometer (0.6 miles) of commanding a corridor in eastern Aleppo for the first time since rebels swept into the city in 2012, according to Syrian state media and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group.

Kurdish-led forces operating autonomously of the rebels and the government meanwhile seized the Bustan al-Basha neighborhood, allowing thousands of civilians to flee the decimated district to the predominantly Kurdish Sheikh Maqsoud, in the city's north, according to Ahmad Hiso Araj, an official with the Syrian Democratic Forces.

The government's push, backed by thousands of Shiite militia fighters from Lebanon, Iraq, and Iran, and under the occasional cover of the Russian air force, has laid waste to Aleppo's eastern neighborhoods.

An estimated quarter-million people are trapped in wretched conditions in the city's rebel-held eastern districts since the government sealed its siege of the enclave in late August. Food supplies are running perilously low, the U.N. warned Thursday, and a relentless air assault by government forces has damaged or destroyed every hospital in the area.

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Election throws US plans for Syrian refugees into question

RUTLAND, Vt. (AP) — Arabic language classes are drawing 25 to 30 people a week in preparation for the new arrivals in town. High school students are helping collect furniture and housewares for them, and employers have inquired about giving them jobs.

For the past several months, Rutland has been getting ready to receive 100 mostly Syrian refugees beginning early next year. But with Donald Trump taking office in late January, Rutland's plans and those of other U.S. cities that have agreed to take in people fleeing the civil war have been thrown into question, given the incoming president's hostility to Muslim immigrants.

"I am not even going to hazard a guess" about the fate of the program, said Mayor Christopher Louras, who invited the newcomers in the hope they can help revitalize this shrinking, post-industrial, heroin-plagued city of 15,800.

In the fiscal year that just ended, the Obama administration screened and admitted nearly 12,600 Syrian refugees, who were resettled in cities and towns across the U.S. Thousands more are scheduled to arrive in the coming year.

During the campaign, Trump proposed a ban on Muslims entering the country and called for a moratorium on accepting Syrian refugees for fear of terrorists slipping through. He also vowed "extreme vetting" of would-be immigrants from countries plagued by extremism.

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Fillon wins France's conservative presidential primary

PARIS (AP) — Francois Fillon won France's first-ever conservative presidential primary Sunday after promising drastic free-market reforms and a crackdown on immigration and Islamic extremism, beating a more moderate rival who had warned of encroaching populism.

"President! President!" chanted the former prime minister's supporters as he declared victory over Alain Juppe in a nationwide runoff election.

Polls suggest the sober, authoritative Fillon, 62, would have a strong chance of winning the French presidency in the April-May election, amid widespread frustration with France's current Socialist leadership.

Fillon, who was prime minister from 2007-2012 under ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy, enjoyed a surprise surge in popularity in recent weeks. A rise in nationalist sentiment across Europe may have favored his strict conservative positions over Juppe's more centrist stance.

France needs "a complete change of software," Fillon said, promising in his victory speech to defend "French values."

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Brown water, beaver battle among early signs of water woes

ATLANTA (AP) — Beaver dams have been demolished, burbling fountains silenced, and the drinking water in one southern town has taken on the light brownish color of sweet tea.

Though water shortages have yet to drastically change most people's lifestyles, southerners are beginning to realize that they'll need to save their drinking supplies with no end in sight to an eight-month drought.

Already, watering lawns and washing cars is restricted in some parts of the South, and more severe water limits loom if long-range forecasts of below-normal rain hold true through the rest of 2016.

The drought arrived without warning in Chris Benson's bathroom last week in Griffin, Georgia.

"My son noticed it when he went to take his bath for the evening," said Benson, 43. "The water was kind of a light brown color and after we ran it for a while, it actually looked like a light-colored tea. A little disturbing."

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Thanksgiving weekend shoppers spent less due to discounts

NEW YORK (AP) — Thanksgiving weekend shoppers picked up hot toys, TVs and new Apple products, buying both online and in stores, but spent less per person because of rampant discounting that they've come to demand.

Once all the receipts are in, customers look to have spent an average of $289.19 over the four-day weekend, down nearly 3.5 percent from a year ago, based on a survey by the National Retail Federation. The pressure on prices was especially strong on products like TVs.

More than 154 million customers said they had shopped or planned to this Thanksgiving weekend, up from 151 million a year ago, according to the survey conducted Friday and Saturday by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics. And more were doing it online, as about 99.1 million went to the stores and 108.5 million shopped online.

Carmen Cunnyngham of Kansas City, Kansas, was in Denver on Sunday and decided to stop at the mall to pick up a new pair of Ugg boots for her daughter. They were discounted at Nordstrom, which is one of her favorite places to shop. She said she got a bit of a late start this year because of the presidential election, so she's been looking online for deals and jumping when she sees them.

"I'm trying to make sure I get the wish lists in and look at those and shop and do what I can before Christmas gets here," she said.
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