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AP Top News at 3:51 a.m. EDT

AP sources: Gingrich, Christie being vetted for Trump VP
WASHINGTON (AP) - Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has begun formally vetting prospective vice presidential picks. The New York billionaire is considering former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, among what he previously described as a short list of possible running mates. Their inclusion was confirmed by people with direct knowledge of the vetting process who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the situation publicly. Trump begins the vetting process with less than three weeks before the start of the Republican National Convention, when he said he would publicly unveil his pick.


APNewsBreak: Union to strike against Trump Taj Mahal casino
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) - Still seething from the cancellation of its members' health insurance and pension benefits nearly two years ago, Atlantic City's main casino workers union said early Friday it will go on strike against the Trump Taj Mahal casino. Local 54 of the Unite-HERE union told The Associated Press that it was unable to reach agreement on a new contract with the Taj Mahal, which is owned by billionaire investor Carl Icahn. The walkout involving about 1,000 union members is scheduled to begin at 6 a.m. Friday. "As a result, nearly a thousand cooks, housekeepers, bellmen and servers from the Trump Taj Mahal will walk off the job this morning ahead of the industry's biggest holiday weekend to fight for decent wages, basic benefits and the future of their middle class livelihoods," the union said in a statement issued early Friday.


Turkish official: Mastermind of Feb "terror attack" killed
ISTANBUL (AP) - As Turkey continues to investigate the Istanbul airport bombing and track down suspects, a Turkish official says the mastermind of an earlier suicide bombing has been killed. The official said Friday Mehmet Sirin Kaya was killed by security forces in the town of Lice in the mainly Kurdish province of Diyarbakir. The Feb. 17 suicide attack against military personnel in Ankara killed 29 people and was claimed by an offshoot of the Kurdistan Worker's Party, or PKK, which Turkey considers a terrorist organization. The official spoke on condition of anonymity in line with government protocol. Turkey is still reeling from the triple suicide bombing attack at Istanbul's Ataturk Airport earlier this week that killed 44 people.


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Are we overusing the tribute of flying flag at half-staff?
NEW YORK (AP) - Nearly every day, somewhere in the country, the Stars and Stripes was lowered to half-staff last year in one of the most significant official gestures of mourning and respect, an Associated Press analysis found. The centuries-old practice can be a visible, public answer to extraordinary loss, as when more than four dozen people were killed last month at a gay nightclub in Florida. But as the nation marks Independence Day on Monday, flag buffs have noted that the honor has been extended more widely over time, including to celebrities and police dogs. And some have questioned whether the country has lowered the bar on the lowering of the flag.


Judge blocks Mississippi law on objections to gay marriage
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - A federal judge blocked a Mississippi law on religious objections to same-sex marriage moments before it was set to take effect Friday, ruling it unconstitutionally establishes preferred beliefs and creates unequal treatment for gay people. U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves wrote that the title, text and history of the law show it is "the state's attempt to put LGBT citizens back in their place" in response to last summer's Supreme Court ruling that legalized gay marriage nationwide. "In physics, every action has its equal and opposite reaction," Reeves wrote. "In politics, every action has its predictable overreaction." State attorneys are expected to appeal his ruling, which came overnight in response to two lawsuits filed weeks ago by gay and straight plaintiffs.


Tesla driver's death using car's 'Autopilot' probed by NHTSA
WASHINGTON (AP) - A driver so enamored of his Tesla Model S sedan that he nicknamed the car "Tessy" and praised the safety benefits of its sophisticated "Autopilot" system has become the first U.S. fatality in a wreck involving a car in self-driving mode. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced the driver's death Thursday, and said it is investigating the design and performance of the Autopilot system. Joshua D. Brown of Canton, Ohio, the 40-year-old owner of a technology company, was killed May 7 in Williston, Florida, when his car's cameras failed to distinguish the white side of a turning tractor-trailer from a brightly lit sky and didn't automatically activate its brakes, according to statements by the government and the automaker.


Now isolated, Britain joins France at WWI centenary event
THIEPVAL, France (AP) - One week after Britain's vote to leave the European Union, Prime Minister David Cameron and royal family members will stand side-by-side with France's president to celebrate their historic alliance at the centenary of the deadliest battle of World War I. More than 1 million people were killed, wounded or went missing in the Battle of the Somme in northern France, pitting British and French troops against German ones from July 1 to Nov. 18, 1916. Britain held a moment of silence Friday morning to mark 100 years since the bloodiest day of British military history - about 20,000 British soldiers alone were killed on the first day of battle.


New Philippine president faces daunting challenges
MANILA, Philippines (AP) - Rodrigo Duterte, who was sworn in as the Philippines' 16th president on Thursday, has given himself a colossal campaign promise to fulfill: eradicating crime - especially drug trafficking, smuggling, rapes and murder - in three to six months. That won him a lot of votes, but it also spurred alarm and doubts, including from police officials, who said it was an impossible feat. Famous for his blunt speech, Duterte also made a number of potentially divisive declarations or decisions that will likely complicate his first few months in office. Here are some of them: --- ZERO CRIME Duterte has repeatedly vowed to wipe out crime and corruption in three to six months, warning lawbreakers they would be shot to death if they try to resist.


Man at center of 'Serial' podcast granted a new trial
BALTIMORE (AP) - After spending 16 years in prison for the killing of his former high school girlfriend, a man at the center of popular podcast "Serial" has a chance at freedom. Retired Baltimore Circuit Judge Martin Welch ruled Thursday that Adnan Syed, 35, deserved a new trial because his lawyer didn't challenge testimony in the case that became the focus of the podcast, which captivated millions of listeners around the world. Syed was convicted in 2000 of murdering Hae Min Lee a year earlier and burying her in a shallow grave in a park in northwest Baltimore. He was sentenced to life in prison.


Journey to Jupiter: NASA spacecraft nears planet rendezvous
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Jupiter takes center stage with the arrival next week of a NASA spacecraft built to peek through its thick, swirling clouds and map the planet from the inside out. The solar-powered Juno spacecraft is on the final leg of a five-year, 1.8 billion-mile (2.8 billion-kilometer) voyage to the biggest planet in the solar system. Juno promises to send back the best close-up views as it circles the planet for a year. Jupiter is a gas giant made up mostly of hydrogen and helium unlike rocky Earth and its neighbor Mars. The fifth planet from the sun likely formed first and it could hold clues to how the solar system developed.

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