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AP Top News at 5:05 a.m. EDT

UK set to file for EU divorce, triggering 2 years to Brexit
LONDON (AP) - Britain is set to formally file for divorce from the European Union Wednesday, ending a 44-year relationship, enacting the decision made by U.K. voters in a referendum nine months ago and launching both Britain and the bloc into uncharted territory. Prime Minister Theresa May is due to tell House of Commons at lunchtime that she has invoked Article 50 of the EU's key treaty, the trigger for a two-year countdown to Britain's exit. Just before May's statement, scheduled for 1130 GMT (7:30 a.m. EDT), Britain's EU envoy, Tim Barrow, will hand-deliver a letter from May to EU Council President Donald Tusk in Brussels.


Timeline of events leading up to Brexit
LONDON (AP) - A timeline of key events related to Britain's decision to leave the European Union: Jan. 23, 2013: British Prime Minister David Cameron promises a referendum on Britain's membership to the EU if the Conservative party is elected in the next general election. He does so to try to garner support among euro-skeptics within his own party. Sept. 18, 2014: Scottish voters decide in a referendum to remain part of the United Kingdom rather than become an independent country. May. 7, 2015: British voters elect a majority Conservative government. Cameron confirms in his victory speech that there will be an in/out referendum on European Union membership.


Raqqa residents trapped by militants ahead of assault
BEIRUT (AP) - As U.S.-backed forces bear down on the de facto capital of the Islamic State group, the militants have taken their strategy of hiding behind civilians further than ever before, effectively using the entire population of Raqqa as human shields. A belt of land mines and checkpoints has been laid on roads in and out the northern Syrian city to prevent escape. All men have been ordered to wear the jihadis' garb of baggy pants and long shirts, making it difficult to distinguish militants from civilians. Hundreds if not thousands of Syrians who fled other parts of the country now live in tents in the streets, vulnerable to warplanes or ground fighting.


Watch Top News Video




Kushner, taking new White House role, faces rare scrutiny
WASHINGTON (AP) - Jared Kushner has been a power player able to avoid much of the harsh scrutiny that comes with working in the White House. But this week he's found that even the president's son-in-law takes his turn in the spotlight. In a matter of days, Kushner, a senior Trump adviser, drew headlines for leaving Washington for a ski vacation while a signature campaign promise fell apart. The White House then confirmed he had volunteered to be interviewed before the Senate intelligence committee about meetings with Russian officials. At the same time, the White House announced he'll helm a new task force that some in the West Wing have suggested carries little real influence.


US judge to hear arguments on longer block to travel ban
HONOLULU (AP) - A federal judge in Hawaii who temporarily blocked President Donald Trump's revised travel ban planned to hear arguments Wednesday on whether to extend his order until the state's lawsuit works its way through the courts. But even if U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson does not issue a longer-lasting hold on the ban, the temporary block would stay in place until he rules otherwise. Legal experts say it is unlikely Watson would side with the Trump administration. The state says the policy discriminates against Muslims, while the government says it falls within Trump's power to protect national security. Here's a look at what led up to Wednesday's hearing in Honolulu: --- THE TEMPORARY ORDER This month, Watson prevented the federal government from suspending new visas for people from six Muslim-majority countries and freezing the nation's refugee program.


France retools anti-extremism efforts after public failures
LENS, France (AP) - France's attempts to counter the radicalization of its young people are in turmoil, with a group home intended to turn them away from Islamic extremism empty, the head of a highly publicized nonprofit convicted of misuse of public funds, and plans to segregate prison inmates suspected of harboring jihadi ideas abandoned. The results are both disappointing and unsurprising, according to a French senator who co-wrote a recent report highly critical of an effort she says was devised in haste and has been a waste of money. "We spread money around because we didn't have time and we had to communicate something, we had to show something," Sen.


Fears for Indonesian park's rare species as Trump town rises
GUNUNG GEDE PANGRANGO, Indonesia (AP) - Shrouded in mist and cloud, the twin volcanoes of the lushly forested Gunung Gede Pangrango national park are the brooding guardians of nature's last stand on teeming Java island. Indonesia's overflowing, polluted capital is a couple of hours north, and with Trump-branded properties being built next to this protected area, Jakarta may soon feel even closer. Over the next four years, a sprawling "Trump Community" will be built in this pocket of Indonesia's most densely populated island, with a new road leading to it. It's part of broader plans, including a massive theme park, that have alarmed conservationists who fear development will overwhelm a refuge for some of the archipelago's most threatened species.


Nuke Testing 101: How, and why, North Korea tests its bombs
TOKYO (AP) - Let's say you're North Korea and you have this nuclear device you really want to test. And let's say you'd rather some of the more sensitive details remain private. Physicists, geologists, imagery analysts, some of the best militaries in the world, monitoring posts set up by non-proliferation organizations - beating the technology arrayed against you will be no mean feat. As soon as you detonate your device, seismographs all over the world are going to pick it up. If it has a decent yield, it will look like a moderate earthquake, but not to the experts - who will quickly identify it as a man-made explosion.


Iranians, engines of US university research, wait in limbo
BOSTON (AP) - Hundreds of Iranian students already accepted into U.S. graduate programs may not be able to come next fall because of the uncertainty surrounding President Donald Trump's proposed travel ban, potentially derailing research projects and leaving some science programs scrambling to find new students. With admission season still in full swing, 25 of America's largest research universities have already sent more than 500 acceptance letters to students from the six affected countries, according to data provided by schools in response to Associated Press requests. The vast majority of those students are from Iran, where undergraduate programs are known for their strength in engineering and computer sciences.


Troll for the 'lulz'? A target of online abuse isn't amused
One morning near the end of her long-shot congressional campaign, 25-year-old Erin Schrode rolled over in bed, reflexively checked her cellphone - and burst into tears. With mounting horror, she scanned a barrage of anti-Semitic emails from anonymous trolls. "Get out of my country, kike," read one. "Get to Israel to where you belong. That or the oven. Take your pick." Included was a photograph of Schrode digitally stamped with a yellow "Jude" star, the badge that Nazis forced Jews to wear during the Holocaust. Schrode, a Democrat and activist who would come in third in the June primary in her Northern California district, had become the latest target of The Daily Stormer, a popular neo-Nazi website known for orchestrating internet trolling campaigns.

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