Relations between Obama, Netanyahu camps hit rock bottom

By JOSH LEDERMAN, Associated Press

HONOLULU (AP) — It took eight years of backbiting and pretending they got along for relations between President Barack Obama’s administration and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to finally hit rock bottom.

Though they’ve clashed bitterly before, mostly notably over Iran, the two governments seemed farther apart than ever after a speech Wednesday by Secretary of State John Kerry and last week’s United Nations resolution.

The key question for the Obama administration, newly willing to air grievances with Israel on live television, is why now?

“We cannot, in good conscience, do nothing and say nothing when we see the hope of peace slipping away,” Kerry said in a speech that ran more than an hour.

Yet in just over three weeks, Obama will no longer be president, Kerry will no longer be secretary of State, and the U.S. will have a new leader under no obligation to embrace any of what Kerry said. President-elect Donald Trump has assured Israel that things will be different after Jan. 20, when he’s to be inaugurated, and lamented how the Jewish state was “being treated very, very unfairly.”

Kerry took pains to voice America’s staunch commitment to Israel’s security and support for its future, and to detail U.S. complaints about Palestinian leadership and its failure to sufficiently deter violence against Israelis. He laid out a six-point framework for a potential peace deal that it will be up to the next U.S. government to try to enact, if it chooses to do so.

The White House has portrayed Obama’s decision to break with tradition by abstaining — rather than vetoing — a U.N. Security Council resolution declaring Israeli settlements illegal as a reaction forced by other countries that brought it up for a vote.

The White House has also acknowledged that Obama had long considered the possibility of taking some symbolic step before leaving office to leave his imprint on the debate. For much of the year, his staff pored over options that included a U.N. resolution outlining principles for a peace deal and a presidential speech much like the one Kerry gave Wednesday. Yet there was reluctance to act before the U.S. election, given the way it would have thrust the Israeli-Palestinian issue into the campaign.

Kerry acknowledged Trump appears to favor a different approach. Yet frustrated by years of Israeli actions he deemed counterproductive for peace, Obama appeared to have decided it was better to make his administration’s views known while still in office, even if it risked a blockbuster clash with America’s closest ally.

In his speech, Kerry tore into Israel for settlement-building, accusing Netanyahu of dragging Israel away from democracy. He defended the move to allow the U.N. vote, the spark that set off an extraordinary and deepening diplomatic spat between the U.S. and its closest Mideast ally.

“If the choice is one state, Israel can either be Jewish or democratic, it cannot be both, and it won’t ever really be at peace,” Kerry said

Shortly after, Netanyahu appeared on camera in Jerusalem and suggested he was done with the Obama administration and ready to deal with Trump. The Israeli leader faulted Kerry for obsessing over settlements while paying mere “lip service” to Palestinian attacks and incitement of violence.

“Israelis do not need to be lectured about the importance of peace by foreign leaders,” Netanyahu said.

Trump wouldn’t say whether settlements should be reined in. But he told reporters Israel was being “treated very, very unfairly by a lot of different people.”

In a nod to Netanyahu’s concerns that Obama would take more parting shots, Kerry seemed to rule out the possibility Obama would support more U.N. action or, even more controversially, recognize statehood.

The U.S, the Palestinians and most of the world oppose Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, territories captured by Israel in 1967 and claimed by the Palestinians for an independent state. But Israel’s government argues previous construction freezes didn’t advance peace and that the settlements — now home to 600,000 Israelis — must be resolved in direct talks Israelis-Palestinian talks.

While Israel’s Arab population has citizenship rights, the roughly 2.5 million Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank do not, and most in annexed east Jerusalem have residency rights but not citizenship.

Kerry said a future deal would have to ensure secure borders for Israel and a Palestinian state formed in territories Israel captured in 1967, with “mutually agreed, equivalent swaps.” He said both countries must fully recognize each other, ensure access to religious sites and relinquish other existing claims. Kerry also called for assistance for Palestinian refugees.

___

Lederman reported from Honolulu. Associated Press writers Josef Federman in Jerusalem and Vivian Salama in Palm Beach, Florida, contributed to this report.

___

Reach Josh Lederman on Twitter at http://twitter.com/joshledermanAP

Russian plane crash probe rules out explosion

By VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV, Associated Pres

MOSCOW (AP) — Flight recorders revealed no evidence of an explosion on board a Russian plane that crashed into the Black Sea, killing all 92 on board, but investigators haven’t ruled out foul play, a military official said Thursday.

Russian air force Lt. Gen. Sergei Bainetov, who heads the Defense Ministry commission conducting the crash probe, said that a cockpit conversation recorder contained the captain’s words that indicated a “special situation” that began unfolding on board the plane.

Bainetov wouldn’t elaborate on what may have led to the crash, but noted that it likely had been caused by several factors.

The Tu-154 of the Russian Defense Ministry crashed into the sea early Sunday, moments after taking off in good weather from the city of Sochi. It was carrying members of the Alexandrov Ensemble, widely known as the Red Army Choir, to a New Year’s concert at a Russian military base in Syria.

Bainetov said that the plane crashed 70 seconds after takeoff from an altitude of 250 meters (820 feet) while it was traveling at a speed of 360-370 kilometers per hour (224-230 miles per hour).

“After deciphering the first flight recorder we have made a conclusion that there was no explosion on board,” Bainetov said at a news conference.

But asked if that means that investigators have ruled out a terror attack, Bainetov said “we aren’t ruling out that version yet.”

“A terror attack doesn’t always involve an explosion,” he said. “Along with an explosion on board, there could have been some mechanical impact.”

He wouldn’t offer any details, saying that Russian law-enforcement agencies are working on the case.

Bainetov’s words appeared to contradict a previous statement from Russia’s top domestic security and counter-terrorism agency, the FSB, which has said it found “no indications or facts pointing at the possibility of a terror attack or an act of sabotage.”

It said investigators were looking into whether the crash might have been caused by bad fuel, pilot error, equipment failure or objects stuck in the engines.

Bainetov noted that “according to a preliminary assessment of information from the flight parameter recorder there had been no obvious equipment failures.”

Investigators also have taken samples from a fuel tank used to fill the plane, which flew from Moscow’s Chkalovsky military airport and stopped in Sochi for refueling.

In an apparent attempt to downplay Bainetov’s statement, Russian Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov emphasized that “the version of a terror attack isn’t being considered as the main version.”

Sokolov said search teams have completed the bulk of efforts to recover bodies and debris from the crash site. He said 19 bodies and more than 230 body fragments have been recovered, adding that 13 big fragments of the plane and about 2,000 smaller fragments have been pulled from the seabed.

Bainetov said that Syria-bound planes normally stop for refueling at the North Caucasus military air base in Mozdok, but the plane that crashed had been diverted to Sochi because of bad weather in Mozdok.

Flights of the military’s Tu-154s have been suspended during the investigation.

The Tu-154 is a Soviet-built three-engine airliner designed in the late 1960s. Russian airlines decommissioned the noisy, fuel-guzzling aircraft years ago, but the military and other government agencies continue using the plane, which is still loved by crews for its maneuverability and sturdiness.

“The aircraft has proven itself well,” Bainetov said, but said they will likely resume after the investigation is over.

The plane that crashed Sunday was built in 1983 and underwent factory checkups and maintenance in 2014, and earlier this year. Investigators have taken relevant documents from the plant that did the job.

The crash wiped out most singers of the Alexandrov Ensemble, popular for its fiery performances.

“It will be very difficult to replace the gifted artists who were famous around the world,” Deputy Defense Minister Nikolai Pankov said, adding that the military will work on reviving the choir.

What it means if Trump names China a currency manipulator

By PAUL WISEMAN, AP Economics Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) — President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to name China a currency manipulator on his first day in the White House.

There’s only one problem – it’s not true anymore. China, the world’s second-biggest economy behind the United States, hasn’t been pushing down its currency to benefit Chinese exporters in years. And even if it were, the law targeting manipulators requires the U.S. spend a year negotiating a solution before it can retaliate.

Trump spent much of the campaign blaming China’s for America’s economic woes. And it’s true that the U.S-China trade relationship is lopsided. China sells a lot more to the United States than it buys. The resulting trade deficit in goods amounted to a staggering $289 billion through the first 10 months of 2016.

But in fact, for the past couple of years China has been intervening in markets to prop up its currency, the yuan, not push it lower.

WHAT DOES CURRENCY HAVE TO DO WITH THE TRADE GAP?

When China’s yuan falls against the U.S. dollar, Chinese products become cheaper in the U.S. market and American products become more costly in China.

So the U.S. Treasury Department monitors China for signs it is manipulating the yuan lower. Treasury has guidelines for putting countries on its currency blacklist. They must, for example, have spent the equivalent of 2 percent of their economic output over a year buying foreign currencies in an attempt to drive those currencies up and their own currencies down.

Treasury hasn’t declared China a currency manipulator since 1994.

WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF THE US DECLARED CHINA A CURRENCY MANIPULATOR?

Probably not much, at least initially.

If Treasury designates China a currency manipulator under a 2015 law, it is supposed to spend a year trying to resolve the problem through negotiations.

Should those talks fail, the U.S. can take a number of small steps in retaliation, including stopping the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corp., a government development agency, from financing any programs in China. Trouble is, the United States already suspended OPIC operations in China years ago — to punish Beijing in the aftermath of the bloody 1989 crackdown in Tiananmen Square.

So naming China a currency manipulator is mostly “just a jaw-boning exercise,” said Amanda DeBusk, chair of the international trade department at the law firm of Hughes Hubbard & Reed and a former Commerce Department official. “There’s no immediate consequence.”

IS CHINA GUILITY OF USING CURRENCY TO HELP ITS EXPORTERS?

For years, China pretty clearly manipulated its currency to gain an advantage over global competitors. It bought foreign currencies, the U.S. dollar in particular, to push them higher against the yuan. As it did, it accumulated vast foreign currency reserves — nearly $4 trillion worth by mid-2014.

But now the Chinese economy is slowing, and Chinese companies and individuals have begun to invest more heavily outside the country. As their money leaves China, it puts downward pressure on the yuan.

The yuan has dropped nearly 7 percent against the dollar so far this year. The Chinese government has responded by draining its foreign exchange reserves to buy yuan, hoping to slow the currency’s fall. China’s reserves have dropped by $279 billion this year to $3.05 trillion.

If Beijing stepped back and let market forces determine the yuan’s level, it likely would fall even faster, giving Chinese exporters even more of a competitive edge.

So Beijing is doing the opposite of what Trump says it’s doing. Cornell University economist Eswar Prasad earlier this month called Trump’s plans to name China a currency manipulator “unmoored from reality.”

“The whole discussion is ironic,” said David Dollar, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a former official at the World Bank and U.S. Treasury Department. “It’s out of date.”

COULD TRUMP DO ANYTHING ON HIS OWN?

Gary Hufbauer, an expert on trade law at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, notes that as president, Trump could nonetheless escalate any dispute over the currency on his own. Over the years, Congress has ceded the president broad authority to impose trade sanctions. Trump has threatened to slap a 45 percent tax, or tariff, on Chinese imports to punish it for unfair trade practices, including alleged currency manipulation.

Brookings’ Dollar said China likely would bring a case to the World Trade Organization “against any protectionist measures that are a violation of U.S. commitments to the WTO,” which oversees the rules of global commerce and rules on trade disputes.

Some trade analysts wonder if Trump is using the tariff threat as a negotiating tool to win concessions from China.

Whatever the U.S. motive, China has a consistent record of retaliating against trade sanctions. When the Obama administration slapped tariffs on Chinese tire imports in 2009, for instance, China lashed back by imposing a tax on U.S. chicken parts.

China’s Global Times newspaper, published by the ruling Communist Party’s People’s Daily, has already speculated that “China will take a tit-for-tat approach” if Trump’s tariffs are enacted. The paper suggested that Beijing might limit sales of Apple iPhones and Boeing jetliners in China.

“The Chinese are predictable and reliable,” DeBusk said. “If they get punched, they punch back.”

___

Follow Paul Wiseman on Twitter at https://twitter.com/PaulWisemanAP

Kosovo decides to pull down wall raised by ethnic Serbs

PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — Kosovo’s Parliament has voted to demolish a concrete wall erected by the Serb ethnic minority in the northern city of Mitrovica.

Serbs earlier this month started to raise the wall in the northern part of the bridge on Ibar River, calling it a technical support barrier against a landslide. The construction was vehemently contested by the Kosovo government.

Members of Parliament on Thursday backed the demolition, with no one voting against.

The European Union and the United States also have opposed building of the wall at a time when Pristina and Belgrade are holding EU-mediated dialogue to reconcile their differences.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008 which Belgrade has not recognized.

US senators: Russia should be sanctioned for election hacks

By TAMI ABDOLLAH, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. senators visiting eastern European allies to discuss security issues called for sanctions against Russia for interfering in the presidential election by hacking American political sites and email accounts. Their demands came amid ongoing discussions among U.S. officials on an imminent response to alleged Russian meddling that would ensure the U.S. takes action before President-elect Donald Trump takes office.

“We have to sanction Russia for these cyberattacks (and) send a clear message to the incoming administration that there is a lot of bipartisan support in Congress for going after this,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., told The Associated Press by phone from Latvia.

Klobuchar joined Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., in their visits to Russian neighbors, the Baltic States, Ukraine, and Georgia as well as Montenegro.

Russian officials have denied the Obama administration’s accusation that the highest-levels of the Russian government were involved in trying to influence the U.S. presidential election. U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that Russia’s goal was to help Trump win — an assessment Trump has dismissed as ridiculous.

The Obama administration has said the U.S. will respond at a time and with a means of its choosing, and that all responses may not be publicly known.

The lawmakers on Wednesday reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to the Baltics, saying the relationship with the three former Soviet states — Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania — “will not change” under the new administration.

“I predict there will be bipartisan sanctions coming that will hit Russia hard, particularly (President Vladimir) Putin as an individual,” Graham told reporters in Riga, the Latvian capital. He didn’t elaborate on possible sanctions.

The U.S. has already sanctioned Russia over its annexation of Crimea and the conflict in Ukraine, but it could potentially use an April 2015 executive order allowing for the use of sanctions to combat cyberattacks.

A year after the order was issued, Democratic Party officials learned their systems were attacked after discovering malicious software on their computers.

But the executive order “(isn’t) well suited to the Russian activities,” said Stewart Baker, a partner specializing in cybersecurity for Steptoe & Johnson LLP. Baker said that order was primarily aimed at cyberespionage, for example spying by the Chinese military for commercial advantage.

The order covers a response to attacks on critical infrastructure, and Klobuchar called on the administration to amend it to also include election systems, which are not considered critical infrastructure.

A presidential policy directive in 2013 identified 16 sectors that are considered critical infrastructure, including energy, financial services and health care. The U.S. Homeland Security Department is mulling over adding election systems to that list.

The designation places responsibilities on the secretary of Homeland Security to conduct comprehensive assessments of vulnerabilities and track as well as provide information on emerging and imminent threats that may impact critical infrastructure.

More importantly, in this case, it would allow for a response to a cyberattack against election systems.

And while Trump could change back any amended or new order allowing for the U.S. to impose sanctions on entities involved in a cyberattack on election systems, “he would have a lot of explaining to do,” Klobuchar said. “The executive order gives tools to respond.”

Speaking to journalists at his Palm Beach, Florida, estate Wednesday, Trump was not addressing the issue of sanctions, but said: “We don’t have the kind of security we need.” He added: “Nobody knows what’s going on.”

Trump said he has not spoken with senators calling for sanctions, but believes “we have to get on with our lives.”

President Barack Obama has ordered intelligence officials to conduct a broad review of election-season cyberattacks.

Russia’s neighbors have long suffered the wrath of its hackers, whose actions have frequently complemented the government’s political and military aims. In 2014, Ukraine’s Central Election Commission was targeted by a pro-Russian hacking group.

The Russian Embassy did not respond to requests for comment on Wednesday.

___

Follow Tami Abdollah on Twitter at https://twitter.com/latams

Israeli justice officials to issue update on Netanyahu probe

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel’s Justice Ministry and police say they will issue an update “in due time” about an ongoing probe into suspicions surrounding Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Israeli media are reporting that the attorney general will soon announce a criminal investigation into Netanyahu. The Justice Ministry would not confirm the reports, but issued a brief statement late Wednesday about the planned update.

Israeli Channel 10 TV says Netanyahu is suspected in two cases, one of which is “grave and supported by evidence.” The Ynet news website reports Netanyahu will be summoned for investigation in the coming days. Police said Thursday that the media reports contained “speculations and disinformation.”

Leading Israeli opposition lawmaker Erel Margalit of the Zionist Union party has been campaigning for a formal investigation into suspicions of prominent donors improperly transferring money for Netanyahu’s personal use, as well as reports that Netanyahu’s personal attorney represented a German firm involved in a $1.5 billion sale of submarines to Israel.

In July, the attorney general announced he was looking into matters concerning Netanyahu but did not disclose what they were. Israeli media at the time reported they were related to Netanyahu’s personal finances. A Netanyahu spokesman told Israeli media there was “nothing” behind the suspicions.

Alexa a witness to murder? Prosecutors seek Amazon Echo data

By JILL BLEED, Associated Press

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Authorities investigating the death of an Arkansas man whose body was found in a hot tub want to expand the probe to include a new kind of evidence: any comments overheard by the suspect’s Amazon Echo smart speaker.

Amazon said it objects to “overbroad” requests as a matter of practice, but prosecutors insist their idea is rooted in a legal precedent that’s “as old as Methuselah.”

The issue has emerged in the slaying of Victor Collins, who was found floating face-up last year in the hot tub at a friend’s home in Bentonville, about 150 miles northwest of Little Rock. The friend, James Andrew Bates, was later charged with murder.

Prosecutors have asked the court to force Amazon to provide data from the Echo that could reveal more clues about the night of Nov. 22, 2015, when Collins was apparently strangled and drowned.

Benton County Prosecuting Attorney Nathan Smith said Wednesday that he has no idea if the device recorded anything related to the death. But looking for clues is simply “a question of law enforcement doing their due diligence.”

Like any investigation, “law enforcement has an obligation to try to obtain evidence of the crime,” Smith said.

The device is a cylinder-shaped speaker with internet-connected microphones that debuted in late 2014. Similar to other gadgets, it listens for a user’s voice and responds to commands — to play music, read the morning headlines or add an upcoming event to a calendar, for instance. The Echo can speak back to the user in a female voice known as “Alexa.”

The search warrant, signed by a judge in August, requests all “audio recordings, transcribed records, text records and other data” from Bates’ Echo speaker.

So far, authorities have obtained only basic subscriber and account information. Smith said Wednesday that his office has had discussions with Amazon, but that the bulk of the request remains unfulfilled.

The prosecution’s request was first reported this week by The Information, a news site that covers the technology industry.

Amazon spokeswoman Kinley Pearsall declined to comment specifically on the Arkansas case but said in a statement that the company “will not release customer information without a valid and binding legal demand.” Amazon, Pearsall added, objects to “overbroad or otherwise inappropriate demands as a matter of course.”

On its website, the company says the Echo streams audio to cloud-based storage after it detects the user’s “wake word,” and that it stops recording once a question or request has been processed.

Smith compared his request to routine warrants that seek a record of cellphone “pings,” which can be used to track a user’s location.

“It is a search warrant for a new device, but the legal concept is old as Methuselah,” he said.

The Arkansas slaying could be a test case for how evidence rules apply to information from home appliances connected to the internet such as water meters, thermostats and lighting systems, said Nuala O’Connor, president of the Center for Democracy & Technology, a nonprofit group that works on privacy and civil-liberties issues. She previously worked for Amazon.

Law enforcement agencies will have to be careful in drawing conclusions from smart systems, she said. If a case is built on changes in patterns of people’s behavior, there’s a chance that prosecutors and police “could guess wrong.”

“That’s where we’re going to get into issues of circumstantial evidence,” O’Connor said.

The next court hearing for Bates, who has professed his innocence, is set for March 17.

___

Associated Press Writer Tali Arbel in New York contributed to this report.

___

Follow Jill Bleed on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jzbleed.

Debbie Reynolds and daughter Carrie Fisher linked by death

By ANDREW DALTON, Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Debbie Reynolds embodied the sunshine of postwar America on the screen as she matched steps with Gene Kelly in “Singin’ in the Rain.”

Carrie Fisher brought the sarcasm and cynicism of the Baby Boomers to her movies, books and stage shows, even when she was playing a princess in “Star Wars.”

The mother and daughter, separated by so many differences both personal and generational, are likely drawn closer in the public memory after their deaths on successive days.

Reynolds died on Wednesday at age 84, just as she and the rest of the world were starting to mourn her daughter Fisher, who died on Tuesday at 60, days after falling ill on a flight.

Even after a year of shocking and constant celebrity deaths, the one-two punch of Fisher and Reynolds brought a staggering finale to 2016.

Reynolds’ son Todd Fisher said his sister’s death was “just too much” for his mother.

“She said, ‘I want to be with Carrie,'” Fisher told The Associated Press by phone from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where Reynolds had just died after being rushed there earlier in the day. “And then she was gone.”

No cause of death has been revealed for either woman.

Both mother and daughter enjoyed the heights of show business success and endured the depths of personal troubles. Their relationship for years ranged from strained to non-existent, a theme frequently explored in Fisher’s writing, but late in life they became allies and close confidantes in their struggles.

Reynolds lost one husband to Elizabeth Taylor and two other husbands plundered her for millions.

Fisher struggled from early in life with addiction and mental illness.

“There have been a few times when I thought I was going to lose Carrie,” Reynolds said when Oprah Winfrey interviewed both mother and daughter in 2011. “I’ve had to walk through a lot of my tears. But she’s worth it.”

As Fisher tried to distance herself from Reynolds, she barely spoke to her mother for nearly a decade.

“It’s very hard when your child doesn’t want to talk to you and you want to talk to them, and you want to touch them, you want to hold them,” Reynolds told Winfrey. “It was a total estrangement.”

Reaction to Reynolds’ death was swift and emotional.

“Debbie Reynolds, a legend and my movie mom. I can’t believe this happened one day after Carrie,” Albert Brooks, who played opposite Reynolds in “Mother,” said on Twitter.

“I can’t imagine what Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds’ family are going through this week. I send all of my love,” Ellen DeGeneres tweeted.

Born Mary Frances Reynolds, she spent the first eight years of her life in Depression-era poverty in El Paso, Texas. Her father, a carpenter for the Southern Pacific Railroad, was transferred to California and the family settled in Burbank, near Warner Bros. studio.

The girl flourished, excelling as a girl scout and athlete, and playing French horn and bass viola in the Burbank Youth Symphony. Girlfriends persuaded her to enter the beauty contest for Miss Burbank, and she won over the judges.

She found superstardom quickly. After a handful of minor roles, MGM studio boss Louis B. Mayer cast her in “Singin’ in the Rain,” despite Kelly’s objections.

But at 19 with little dance experience, she managed to match Kelly and Donald O’Connor, two of the screens most masterful dancers, step-for-step.

“Gene Kelly was hard on me, but I think he had to be,” Reynolds, who more than held her own in the movie, said in a 1999 Associated Press interview. “I had to learn everything in three to six months. Donald O’Connor had been dancing since he was three months old, Gene Kelly since he was 2 years old.”

After her transition from starlet to star, Reynolds became popular with teenage girls and even more so when in 1955 she married Eddie Fisher, the pop singer whose fans were equally devoted.

The couple made a movie together, “Bundle of Joy,” which seemed to mirror the 1956 birth of Carrie. The Fishers’ next child was Todd, named for Eddie’s close friend and Taylor’s husband, showman Mike Todd.

During this period, Reynolds had a No. 1 hit on the pop charts in 1957 with “Tammy,” the Oscar-nominated song from her film “Tammy and the Bachelor.” But the Cinderella story ended after Mike Todd died in a 1958 airplane crash. Fisher consoled the widow and soon announced he was leaving his wife and two children to marry Taylor.

The celebrity world seemed to lose its mind. Taylor was assailed as a husband stealer, Fisher as a deserter. Reynolds won sympathy as the innocent victim. A cover headline in Photoplay magazine in late 1958 blared: “Smiling through her tears, Debbie says: I’m still very much in love with Eddie.”

Fisher’s singing career never recovered, but Reynolds’ film career flourished.

The 1964 Meredith Willson musical “The Unsinkable Molly Brown,” with Molly’s defiant song “I Ain’t Down Yet,” brought Reynolds her only Academy Award nomination.

She also starred with Glenn Ford in “The Gazebo,” Tony Curtis in “The Rat Race,” Fred Astaire in “The Pleasure of His Company,” Andy Griffith in “The Second Time Around,” with the all-star cast in “How the West Was Won” and Ricardo Montalban in “The Singing Nun.”

And she provided the voice of Charlotte in the 1973 animated “Charlotte’s Web,” the same year she received a Tony nomination for her starring role in the Broadway revival of “Irene,” in which her Fisher also appeared.

But marital woes made life outside entertainment difficult.

In 1960 Reynolds married shoe magnate Harry Karl. The marriage ended in 1973 when she discovered that Karl, a compulsive gambler, had devastated her assets.

Reynolds’ third marriage, to Virginia businessman Richard Hamlett in 1984, proved equally disastrous. In 1992, against friends’ advice, she paid $10 million to buy and convert a faded Las Vegas hotel into the Debbie Reynolds Hotel and Casino, where she performed nightly.

Reynolds ended up filing for bankruptcy in 1997 and accusing Hamlett of making off with her money.

“All of my husbands have robbed me blind,” she said in 1999.

In her later years, Reynolds continued performing her show, traveling 40 weeks a year. She also appeared regularly on television, appearing as John Goodman’s mother on “Roseanne” and a mom on “Will & Grace.”

In 1996 she won critical acclaim in the title role of Albert Brooks’ movie “Mother.” Reynolds and her daughter were featured together in the HBO documentary “Bright Lights,” scheduled for release in 2017.

Eventually, she reconciled and teamed up with Taylor — long since divorced from Fisher — and two other veterans, Joan Collins and MacLaine, for the 2001 TV movie “These Old Broads.” The script, co-written by Carrie Fisher, was about aging, feuding actresses who get together for a reunion show. Reynolds would look back wryly on the Taylor affair, acknowledging that no man could have resisted Taylor, who died in 2011.

Reynolds received an honorary Oscar in 2015, the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, but was too ill to attend the ceremony. Her granddaughter, actress Billie Lourd, accepted the statuette in her honor.

Reynolds took solace and strength in her last years from her renewed closeness with her daughter.

“I would say that Carrie and I have finally found happiness,” Reynolds told Winfrey in 2011. “I admire her strength and survival.”

___

AP entertainment reporters Hillel Italie in New York and Lynn Elber, Sandy Cohen and Anthony McCartney in Los Angeles contributed to this report. The late Associated Press writer Bob Thomas contributed biographical material.

Trump holds Q&A, discussing jobs, Russia, Israel

By VIVIAN SALAMA and JOSH BOAK, Associated Press

PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — President-elect Donald Trump applauded the return of 8,000 jobs to the U.S. and hailed his transition discussions with President Barack Obama in a series of comments that amounted to the most detailed interaction he’s had with journalists since before the election.

In one of his cameos Wednesday on the front steps of his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, Trump touted plans by a Japanese mogul to bring jobs to the United States. They could be the first of the 50,000 jobs that tech billionaire Masayoshi Son promised to create after meeting with the president-elect earlier in December.

In the grand scheme of the economy, the jobs announcement is unlikely to have a major impact. Still, it’s another example of how Trump is trying to stoke voters’ belief that he is actively fighting for their well-being.

Son is the founder and chief executive of SoftBank, one of Japan’s largest technology outfits. He owns the U.S. mobile carrier Sprint, which Trump said Wednesday would be moving 5,000 jobs “back” to the United States. Son also controls OneWeb, which Trump said would hire 3,000 workers.

It was unclear whether the president-elect was referencing the Dec. 6 commitment by Son to invest $50 billion in the United States and create 50,000 jobs.

Trump said the addition of 8,000 jobs was “because of what’s happening and the spirit and the hope.”

Still, the U.S. job market has been robust for much of 2016. Employers have added more than 2.2 million jobs over the past 12 months — a sign of economic health that predates Trump’s presidential victory.

Sprint has struggled since its 2013 acquisition by SoftBank. The carrier shed roughly 9,000 workers between 2012 and 2016, reducing its staff to 30,000, according to annual reports.

Sprint Chief Executive Marcelo Claure said in a statement that the company is “excited” to work with Trump.

“We believe it is critical for business and government to partner together to create more job opportunities in the U.S. and ensure prosperity for all Americans,” Claure said.

The Sprint jobs announcement came after tensions rose and fell Wednesday between Trump and Obama. Trump has made it clear that it didn’t sit well with him when Obama recently boasted that he would have won the election if he’d been running.

Trump appeared again later Wednesday night on the Mar-a-Lago steps, this time alongside legendary boxing entrepreneur Don King, who appeared to be one of several guests attending a dinner party. King carried about a dozen flags, including those of the U.S. and Israel; wore two big diamond necklaces, one with a pendant with the Star of David and another with the American flag; and sported a large pin featuring a picture of Trump.

With King by his side, Trump dismissed days of tense remarks by the outgoing and incoming presidents about who would win if they were to hypothetically run against each other, saying he and Obama had “a very, very good talk.”

“We talked about it and smiled about it and nobody is ever going to know because we are never going to be going against each other,” Trump said.

Earlier, he had accused Obama of throwing up “inflammatory” roadblocks during the transition of power and said his administration was treating Israel with “total disdain.”

White House spokesman Eric Schultz said Obama phoned Trump. “Today’s call, like the others since the election, was positive and focused on continuing a smooth and effective transition,” Schultz said. “The president and president-elect committed to staying in touch over the next several weeks.”

Trump also took issue with the Obama administration’s decision not to block a United Nations Security Council resolution critical of Israeli settlements.

He told reporters that Israel is being treated “very, very unfairly,” maintaining that countries that are “horrible places” never get reprimanded. He refused to directly answer a question about whether Israel should stop building settlements, saying he is “very, very strong on Israel.”

He dodged a direct response when asked about accusations that Russia hacked the U.S. election, saying computers have “complicated lives very greatly.”

“We don’t have the kind of security we need,” Trump said, adding, “Nobody knows what’s going on.” He said he believes “we have to get on with our lives.”

___

Boak reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Cal Woodward in Washington, Josh Lederman in Honolulu and Julie Pace in Buffalo, New York, contributed to this report.

Chicago gang trial jury heads into Day 4 of deliberations

CHICAGO (AP) — Jurors haven’t indicated if they’re close to a verdict in the major racketeering conspiracy trial of six alleged leaders of Chicago’s Hobos street gang.

The panelists are scheduled to resume deliberations Thursday, the fourth day, in U.S. District Court in Chicago.

The presiding judge replied to a note from jurors late Wednesday about gun exhibits and directed them to a flash drive in the jury room that contains photos of guns that prosecutors say were used in a Hobos robbery. The note offered no clues about how deliberations are going.

Prosecutors say the conspiracy included the fatal shootings of two government informants and seven other people. The defendants include purported Hobos boss Gregory Chester and accused gang hit man Paris Poe.

If convicted, they could face life in prison.