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AP Top News at 1:06 p.m. EDT

SKorea ferry toll hits 156 as search gets tougher
JINDO, South Korea (AP) - As the 156th body was pulled from waters where the ferry Sewol sank a week ago, relatives of the nearly 150 still missing pressed the government Wednesday to finish the grim task of recovery soon. But the work was reaching a new, more complicated phase, with an official saying divers must now rip through cabin walls to retrieve more victims. Looming in the background is a sensitive issue: When to bring in the cranes and begin the salvage effort by cutting up and raising the submerged vessel. The government has warned that the work might eliminate air pockets that could be sustaining survivors, but for some relatives that is a long-lost hope.


FM vows response if Russians attacked in Ukraine
DONETSK, Ukraine (AP) - Russia's foreign minister on Wednesday promised a firm response if its citizens or interests come under attack in Ukraine - a vow that came after Ukraine announced a renewal of its "anti-terror" campaign against those occupying buildings in its troubled east. Although Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov did not specifically say Russia would launch a military attack, his comments bolstered wide concern that Russia could use any violence in eastern Ukraine as a pretext for sending in troops. Large contingents of Russian troops - tens of thousands, NATO says - are in place near the Ukrainian border.


Obama opens Japan trip at famous sushi restaurant
TOKYO (AP) - President Barack Obama on Wednesday opened a four-country Asia tour aimed at reassuring allies in the region that the U.S. remains a committed economic, military and political partner that can serve as a counterweight to China's growing influence. The president kicked off his trip on an informal note, joining Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at a famous Tokyo sushi restaurant with hard-to-come-by reservations and a hefty price tag. Obama and Abe greeted each other warmly outside Sukiyabashi Jiro, the underground sushi restaurant run by 88-year-old Jiro Ono.


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Soldier convicted in WikiLeaks case gets new name
LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) - A Kansas judge granted a request Wednesday to formally change the name of the soldier convicted of leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks from Bradley Edward Manning to Chelsea Elizabeth Manning. The former intelligence analyst is serving a 35-year prison sentence for passing classified U.S. government information to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks. Manning is serving the sentence at the Army prison on Fort Leavenworth in Kansas.


Report on CIA interrogations shadows Gitmo trials
WASHINGTON (AP) - The planned release of portions of the Senate report on the CIA's use of harsh interrogation techniques could add to the legal complications facing the long-delayed U.S. military tribunals of terrorist suspects at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp. Intelligence officials head up the declassification process to remove any sensitive references, but the Pentagon will also have a key role, according to two U.S. officials familiar with planning for the report's review. The Defense Department has received copies of the still-secret summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee's report and expects to provide its own assessment of the material to White House and intelligence officials, the officials said.


Wellness programs grow more popular with employers
That little voice nagging you to put down the cake and lace up the running shoes is increasingly coming from your employer and is likely to grow louder with a looming change under the federal health care overhaul. More companies are starting or expanding wellness programs that aim to reduce their medical costs by improving their employees' health. They're asking workers to take physical exams, complete detailed health assessments and focus on controlling conditions such as diabetes. Along with that, many companies also are dangling the threat of higher monthly insurance premiums to prod workers into action.


Bomb, shooting in Egypt kills 2 police officers
CAIRO (AP) - A senior Egyptian police officer was killed by a bomb placed under his car in a western Cairo suburb Wednesday, the latest in a series of targeted attacks on police and the military as Islamic militant groups keep up a campaign of violence since last summer's ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi. Brig. Gen. Ahmed Zaki was the second police officer of that rank killed this month in a bombing, a sign of how the violence has shifted from high profile suicide and car bombings against police installation toward more low-level attacks on individual officers or small police posts.


9th suspect in NC kidnapping turns self in to FBI
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - As the kidnappers pulled into a quiet, upscale golf course community, they thought they were about to abduct an assistant district attorney who sent a high-ranking gang member to prison for life, authorities said. But they had the wrong address and when the prosecutor's father answered the door, they took him instead.


AP WAS THERE: Probable cause of AIDS found
WASHINGTON (AP) - EDITOR'S NOTE: In 1981, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported the first cases of a rare pneumonia that had sickened five Los Angeles gay men. The AIDS epidemic had begun.   Over the next three years, the CDC formally named the condition and announced that sexual contact and infected blood were the major ways the disease spread.


Shakespeare's Globe taking 'Hamlet' to 200 nations
LONDON (AP) - Four centuries after his death, William Shakespeare is probably Britain's best-known export, his words and characters famous around the world. It's fitting they were first staged at a playhouse called the Globe.