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AP Top News at 5:26 p.m. EDT

Raul Castro retires as Cuban president, outlines future
HAVANA (AP) - Raul Castro stepped down as president of Cuba on Thursday, handing power to a 57-year-old successor he said would hold power until 2031, a plan that would place the state the Castro brothers founded and ruled for six decades in the hands of a Communist Party official who remains little known to most people on the island. Castro's 90-minute valedictory speech offered his first clear vision for the nation's future power structure under new President Miguel Mario Diaz-Canel Bermudez. Castro said he foresees the white-haired electronics engineer serving two five-year terms as leader of the Cuban government, and taking the helm of the Communist Party, the country's ultimate authority, when Castro leaves the powerful position in 2021.


Southwest Airlines sought more time for engine inspections
DALLAS (AP) - Southwest Airlines sought more time last year to inspect fan blades like the one that snapped off during one of its flights Tuesday in an engine failure that left a passenger dead. The airline opposed a recommendation by the engine manufacturer to require ultrasonic inspections of certain fan blades within 12 months, saying it needed more time to conduct the work. Southwest made the comments last year after U.S. regulators proposed making the inspections mandatory. The Federal Aviation Administration has not yet required airlines to conduct the inspections but said late Wednesday that it would do so in the next two weeks.


2 black men arrested at Starbucks get an apology from police
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Rashon Nelson initially brushed it off when the Starbucks manager told him he couldn't use the restroom because he wasn't a paying customer. He thought nothing of it when he and his childhood friend and business partner, Donte Robinson, were approached at their table and were asked if they needed help. The 23-year-old entrepreneurs declined, explaining they were just waiting for a business meeting. A few minutes later, they hardly noticed when the police came into the coffee shop - until officers started walking in their direction. "That's when we knew she called the police on us," Nelson told The Associated Press in the first interview by the two black men since video of their trespassing arrests April 12 touched off a furor around the U.S.


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After Syria missile strikes, US stuck in holding pattern
WASHINGTON (AP) - The drama of U.S. and allied missile strikes on Syria has obscured a sobering fact: The U.S.-led campaign to eliminate the Islamic State from Syria has stalled. The U.S. has 2,000 troops in Syria assisting local Arab and Kurdish fighters against IS, even as President Donald Trump resists deeper U.S. involvement and is eager to withdraw completely in coming months. Trump wants "other people" to deal with Syria, whose civil war has spawned the greatest humanitarian crisis since World War II in terms of refugees. It's unclear whether Trump will go ahead with a total U.S. withdrawal while IS retains even a small presence in Syria.


Court sides with sanctuary cities in fight over grants
CHICAGO (AP) - The federal government cannot withhold public safety grants from cities that refuse to cooperate with President Donald Trump's immigration enforcement policies, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday, agreeing with a lower court judge who had imposed a temporary injunction last year. The decision by a three-judge panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Thursday says the administration exceeded its authority in establishing a new condition for cities to qualify for the grants. The administration in July imposed a condition that cities receiving public safety grants must agree to inform federal agents when immigrants in the country illegally are about to be released from police detention.


Awww: 10 days old, she makes Senate history in her pink cap
WASHINGTON (AP) - Tiny Maile Pearl made Senate history Thursday without making a sound. The tightly wrapped 10-day-old baby, brought to the well of the chamber by her mother, Sen. Tammy Duckworth, became the first newborn to appear there, just one day after the Senate approved a new rule permitting it. "It's about time," the Illinois Democrat and Iraq War veteran told reporters on the way in to vote. The rule had passed without objection - but there had been plenty of grumbling about babies threatening the Senate's cherished decorum. But when it actually happened, even stern Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell appeared to beam.


Rudy Giuliani to join Trump legal team in Russia probe
WASHINGTON (AP) - Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani is joining the legal team defending President Donald Trump in the special counsel's Russia investigation. That's according to a statement from Trump personal attorney Jay Sekulow. The addition of Giuliani adds an experienced litigator and former U.S. attorney in Manhattan. Trump has struggled to add lawyers to his legal team since the resignation of John Dowd last month. The statement from Sekulow quotes Trump as saying, "Rudy is great" and saying that Giuliani wants to get "this matter quickly resolved for the good of the country." Giuliani will be joining a legal team that has been negotiating the terms of a possible Trump interview with special counsel Robert Mueller.


AP FACT CHECK: Trump skews reasons behind his 2016 win
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Donald Trump isn't getting the facts straight when it comes to how he won the 2016 election. He's denouncing special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election as a hoax, saying Democrats are unhappy after blowing a win in an Electoral College system in which they have a "tremendous advantage." It's not true as to the Electoral College - some Democrats in fact would prefer to get rid of it. Trump wouldn't have won the presidency without the Electoral College system in which the votes of smaller rural states that tend to vote Republican are weighted more heavily than big, Democratic-leaning states like New York and California.


The Latest: Cuban-Americans in Miami expect little change
Cuban-Americans in Miami aren't expecting much change as President Miguel Diaz-Canel takes over from Raul Castro. Many in South Florida who either fled the Cuban Revolution themselves or are related to people who did, have long been hostile to the government. But this latest development isn't the kind of change they wanted. Sixty-five-year-old Lourdes Diaz tells The Associated Press she sees nothing to distinguish the 57-year-old new president from his predecessor. The political adviser who left the island with her mother before Fidel Castro says life on the island will be "exactly" the same under the new leader. Julio Cesar Alfonso, president of Solidarity Without Borders, calls the change of leadership a "farce." Attorney Wilfredo Allen who left Cuba in 1961 notes that Raul Castro will still control the Communist Party.


Women take fall in Nobel scandal for man's alleged misdeeds
STOCKHOLM (AP) - Thousands of protesters called Thursday for the resignation of the secretive board that awards the Nobel Prize in Literature after a sex-abuse scandal linked to the prestigious Swedish academy forced the ouster of its first-ever woman head and tarnished the reputation of the coveted prize. The ugly internal feud has already reached the top levels of public life in the Scandinavian nation known for its promotion of gender equality, with the prime minister, the king and the Nobel board weighing in. On Thursday evening, thousands of protesters gathered on Stockholm's picturesque Stortorget Square outside the headquarters of the Swedish Academy, which has awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature since 1901, to demand all of its remaining members resign.