AP Top News at 6:53 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, walking out on 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 12:30 p.m. local time (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.


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.


10 Things to Know for Today
Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today: 1. BREXIT DAY: BRITAIN SET TO FILE FOR EU DIVORCE After 44 years of ups and downs with the European Union, Prime Minister Theresa May will send a letter to the European Council formally triggering a two-year countdown to the final split. 2. HOW TRAVEL BAN IS IMPACTING RESEARCH UNIVERSITIES Schools including the University of Central Florida have admitted a large number of Iranian graduate students and losing them would be a blow to science programs, AP finds. 3. WHY PEOPLE OF RAQQA ARE TERRIFIED Some 300,000 residents of the Islamic State group's de facto capital in Syria are trapped by the militants using them as human shields or confused as to where to run from airstrikes.


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AP EXPLAINS: What the death of broadband privacy rules means
NEW YORK (AP) - Now that both houses of Congress have voted to block Obama-era broadband privacy rules , what does that mean for you? In the short term, not so much. The rules, which would have put tough restrictions on what companies like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T can do with information such as your internet history, hadn't yet gone into effect. So if President Donald Trump signs the measure, as the White House has indicated he will , the status quo will remain. But the absence of clear privacy rules means that the companies supplying your internet service - and who can see a great deal of what you do with it - can continue to mine that information for use in their own advertising businesses.


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.


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.


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.


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.