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AP Top News at 2:15 a.m. EDT

Official: Airport attackers from Russia, Central Asia
ISTANBUL (AP) - As the death toll from the Istanbul airport attack rose Thursday to 44, a senior Turkish official said the three suicide bombers who carried it out were from Russia, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, and Turkish police raided Istanbul neighborhoods for suspects linked to the Islamic State group. Turkish authorities say all information suggests the Tuesday night attack on Ataturk Airport, one of the world's busiest, was the work of IS, which boasted this week of having cells in Turkey, among other countries. Police raided 16 locations in three neighborhoods on both the Asian and European sides of the city that sprawls across the Bosporus Strait, rounding up 13 people suspected of having links to IS.


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.


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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.


Federal judge blocks Mississippi religious objections law
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - A federal judge has blocked a Mississippi law that would let merchants and government employees cite religious beliefs in denying or delaying services to same-sex couples. U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves filed orders in two lawsuits blocking the law just moments before it was to take effect Friday. State attorneys are expected to appeal. The law would protect three beliefs: That marriage is only between a man and a woman; that sex should only take place in such a marriage; and that a person's gender is determined at birth and cannot be altered. It would allow clerks to cite religious objections to recuse themselves from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples and could affect adoptions and foster care, business practices and school bathroom policies.


Tesla driver killed in crash while using car's 'Autopilot'
WASHINGTON (AP) - The U.S. announced Thursday the first fatality in a wreck involving a car in self-driving mode, the 40-year-old owner of a technology company who nicknamed his vehicle "Tessy" and had praised its sophisticated "Autopilot" system just one month earlier for preventing a collision on an interstate. The government said it is investigating the design and performance of the system aboard the Tesla Model S sedan. Joshua D. Brown, of Canton, Ohio, died in the accident 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 government records obtained Thursday.


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.


Phelps vs Lochte: Another showdown for swimming greats
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - The rivalry between Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte goes back more than a decade. They've raced more times than they can remember, always bringing out the best in each other. Now, they're getting ready to do it one more time. In what will be their only real showdown of the U.S. Olympic swimming trials, and likely one of their final races ever, Phelps and Lochte clash again Friday night in the final of the 200-meter individual medley. Side by side, mano a mano. "I think it's one of the greatest rivalries in sports, me and him, just for what we've both done in the sport of swimming," said Lochte, an 11-time Olympic medalist.