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Wild weather in South... Wild Australian fire... President visits troops

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — It's been a wet and wild Christmas in parts of the South. Authorities in Alabama say there has been tornado damage in Birmingham. Structures including homes and a church were damaged. In Mississippi, the death toll has risen to eight. Another six have died in Tennessee and one in Arkansas since Wednesday. Flood watches remain in the region.

SYDNEY (AP) — Fire officials in Australia's Victoria state say cooler weather today is easing the immediate threat from a wildfire that destroyed more than 100 homes on Christmas Day. The fire tore through a stretch of coastline popular with tourists in southern Australia and officials warn it could continue burning for weeks. Hundreds of firefighters spent Christmas battling the blaze.

KANEOHE BAY, Hawaii (AP) — President Barack Obama paid a Christmas Day visit to U.S. troops in Hawaii to express gratitude for their service. He paid tribute to the six U.S. service members killed this week in a suicide attack in Afghanistan, calling them "outstanding, brave men and women." The visit to the Marine Corps base has become an annual tradition for Obama and his wife, Michelle, during the family's yearly vacation in his native Hawaii.

NEW YORK (AP) — A new poll finds most Americans thinking the world was worse off in 2015 than 2014, fueled in part by mass shootings and attacks including the incidents in Southern California and Paris. The Associated Press-Times Square Alliance poll finds that 57 percent of respondents say this year was worse than the last year for the world as a whole, up from the 38 percent in 2014. Only 10 percent believe 2015 was a better year than 2014, while 32 percent see little difference.

POMONA, Calif. (AP) — Police in Southern California say a domestic dispute ended in death after a man set a woman on fire. Police are searching for the 51-year-old suspect who fled the scene. Authorities say neighbors tried to help the woman, who died after being taken to a nearby hospital. Police say that it appears the woman and the suspect got into a heated argument that led to a fight.

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