AP Top News at 4:39 p.m. EDT

It's not EU, it's me: UK files for EU divorce after 44 years
LONDON (AP) - Britain filed for divorce from the European Union on Wednesday, with fond words and promises of friendship that could not disguise the historic nature of the schism - or the years of argument and hard-nosed bargaining ahead as the U.K. leaves the embrace of the bloc for an uncertain future as ``global Britain.'' Prime Minister Theresa May triggered the two-year divorce process in a six-page letter to EU Council President Donald Tusk, vowing that Britain will maintain a ``deep and special partnership'' with its neighbors in the bloc. In response, Tusk told Britain: ``We already miss you.'' May's invocation of Article 50 of the EU's key treaty sets the clock ticking on two years of negotiations until Britain becomes the first major nation to leave the union - as Big Ben bongs midnight on March 29, 2019.


2 former Christie aides get prison for bridge revenge plot
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - Two former aides to Gov. Chris Christie were sentenced to prison Wednesday over a political revenge plot involving traffic jams at the country's busiest bridge, a scandal that sank Christie's White House ambitions and that the judge called a product of a poisonous climate in state politics. Bill Baroni, Christie's appointee to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, was sentenced to two years in prison, and Bridget Kelly, Christie's former deputy chief of staff, was sentenced to 18 months at separate hearings in the 2013 George Washington Bridge lane-closing case. Both must also serve 500 hours of community service.


Poll: Americans dislike GOP's, Trump's plan on health care
WASHINGTON (AP) - Note to President Donald Trump and House Republicans: People really don't like your approach to overhauling America's health care. If you're hoping to revive the effort, you may want to try something different. Sixty-two percent of Americans turned thumbs down on Trump's handling of health care during the initial weeks of his presidency, according to a poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research released Wednesday. It was his worst rating among seven issues the poll tested, including the economy, foreign policy and immigration. Of six changes the failed House GOP bill would have made to President Barack Obama's law, five drew more negative than positive reviews.


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Trump administration seeks delay in ruling on climate plan
WASHINGTON (AP) - Hours after President Donald Trump signed an executive order seeking to undo his predecessor's efforts to curb climate change, his administration has asked a federal appeals court to postpone ruling on lawsuits over Obama-era restrictions on carbon emissions. The regulations - known as the Clean Power Plan - have been the subject of long-running legal challenges by about two dozen mostly Republican-led states and industry groups that profit from burning coal. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit heard arguments in the case last year and could issue a ruling any time. "Because the rule is under agency review and may be significantly modified or rescinded through further rulemaking in accordance with the executive order, holding this case in abeyance is the most efficient and logical course of action here," lawyers for the Justice Department said in their motion late Tuesday.


Zinke: Border wall 'complex,' faces geographic challenges
WASHINGTON (AP) - Geographic and physical challenges - including the Rio Grande and threatened wildlife - will make it difficult to build the "big, beautiful wall" that President Donald Trump has promised on the U.S.-Mexico border, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said Wednesday. Building a wall "is complex in some areas," including Big Bend National Park and along the river, which twists through nearly half of the 2,000-mile border, Zinke said. Hundreds of species live within 30 miles of the border, including threatened jaguars and Mexican gray wolves. The Trump administration is poised to relax protections for the jaguars, which live in northern Mexico and parts of the southwestern United States, to make it easier to build the wall.


Rep. Maxine Waters' no-holds-barred remarks find fans
WASHINGTON (AP) - Rep. Maxine Waters doesn't expect to pose for a photo with President Donald Trump anytime soon. In fact, the California congresswoman plans to boycott any meeting, event, ceremony or public event with the president, at the White House or even in her home district of Los Angeles. "I don't see myself meeting with him, sitting down with him, believing anything he would say or even respecting anything he would say," Waters said sternly to The Associated Press. "It would not be honest on my part to go to any ceremonies with him or to pretend I am having a decent conversation with him." And if Trump personally invited her to the White House for a conversation?


'Unreal when it targets you': Faceless trolls attack online
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.


France retools anti-extremism efforts after public failures
LENS, France (AP) - France's efforts to combat homegrown terrorism are in turmoil: A group home intended to turn young people away from Islamic extremism sits empty. Plans to segregate prison inmates suspected of jihadi sympathies have been abandoned. And the head of a program to prevent radicalization has been convicted of misusing funds. The results are both disappointing and unsurprising, according to a French senator who co-wrote a report last month highly critical of an effort she says was devised in haste and has proved largely ineffective. "We spread money around because we didn't have time and we had to communicate something, we had to show something," Esther Benbassa said.


No cellphones backstage for accountants after Oscar flub
LOS ANGELES (AP) - PwC accountants won't be allowed to have their cellphones backstage during future Oscar telecasts. Film academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs sent an email to academy members Wednesday detailing the new protocols for announcing Oscar winners developed after the best-picture flub at last month's Academy Awards. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences spokeswoman Teni Melidonian confirmed the authenticity of the email. The academy's Board of Governors discussed its ongoing relationship with PwC, formerly known as PricewaterhouseCoopers, and established the new controls at a meeting Tuesday night. Besides banning cellphones, the academy is adding a third balloting partner to the telecast, and bringing in PwC's U.S.


Odd-looking Ronaldo bust steals the show at airport ceremony
FUNCHAL, Portugal (AP) - Cristiano Ronaldo has an airport named after him, but it was his odd-looking statue that attracted attention in Wednesday's ceremony honoring the Portugal star in his hometown. The player's bronze bust, which was unveiled to much fanfare by Portugal's president and prime minister on the island of Madeira, hardly does the handsome footballer justice. It squashes his eyes close together, and the cheeky raised-eyebrow smile more resembles a leer. The face is also unusually chubby, in contrast to Ronaldo's chiseled looks. Dozens of guests and hundreds of fans were at the unveiling of the bust in Ronaldo's native Madeira Islands.