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AP Top News at 12:02 a.m. EDT

Beheading spurs new attacks on Islamic militants
WASHINGTON (AP) - The United States launched a new barrage of airstrikes Wednesday against the Islamic State extremist group that beheaded American journalist James Foley and that has seized a swath of territory across Iraq and Syria. President Barack Obama vowed relentless pursuit of the terrorists and the White House revealed that the U.S. had launched a secret rescue mission inside Syria earlier this summer that failed to rescue Foley and other Americans still being held hostage. In brief but forceful remarks, Obama said the U.S. would "do what we must to protect our people," but he stopped short of promising to follow the Islamic State in its safe haven within Syria, where officials said Foley had been killed. Later, though, the administration revealed that several dozen special operations troops had been on the ground in Syria briefly in an effort to rescue the hostages, but did not find them.


US mission to rescue hostages in Syria failed
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama sent special operations troops to Syria this summer on a secret mission to rescue American hostages, including journalist James Foley, held by Islamic State extremists, but they did not find them, the administration disclosed Wednesday. Officials said the rescue mission was authorized after intelligence agencies believed they had identified the location inside Syria where the hostages were being held. But the several dozen special operations forces dropped by aircraft into Syria did not find them at that location and engaged in a firefight with Islamic State militants before departing, killing several militants. No Americans died but one sustained a minor injury when an aircraft was hit.


10 Things to Know for Thursday
Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Thursday: 1. OFFICIALS: RESCUE MISSION FAILED


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Social media pushes back at militant propaganda
BEIRUT (AP) - The extremists of the Islamic State group have turned their social media into a theater of horror, broadcasting a stomach-turning stream of battles, bombings and beheadings to a global audience. The strategy is aimed at terrorizing opponents at home and winning recruits abroad. But there are increasing signs of pushback - both from companies swiftly censoring objectionable content and users determined not to let it go viral.


Holder says he understands mistrust of police
ST. LOUIS (AP) - Attorney General Eric Holder sought Wednesday to reassure the people of Ferguson about the investigation into Michael Brown's death and said he understands why many black Americans do not trust police, recalling how he was repeatedly stopped by officers who seemed to target him because of his race. Holder made the remarks during a visit to the St. Louis suburb that has endured more than a week of unrest fueled by the fatal shooting of the black 18-year-old by a white officer. The Obama administration intended the trip to underscore its commitment to civil rights in general and the Ferguson case in particular.


Airstrike kills wife and child of Hamas figure
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) - Hamas' shadowy military chief escaped an apparent Israeli assassination attempt that killed his wife and infant son, the militant group said Wednesday as Israel's prime minister warned that the bombardment of Gaza will continue until rocket fire out of the Palestinian territory stops. The airstrike on a home where Mohammed Deif's family members were staying - and the tough talk from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu - came after the collapse of cease-fire talks in Cairo on Tuesday.


Obama weighs broader move on legal immigration
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama is considering key changes in the nation's immigration system requested by tech, industry and powerful interest groups, in a move that could blunt Republicans' election-year criticism of the president's go-it-alone approach to immigration. Administration officials and advocates said the steps would go beyond the expected relief from deportations for some immigrants in the U.S. illegally that Obama signaled he'd adopt after immigration efforts in Congress collapsed. Following a bevy of recent White House meetings, top officials have compiled specific recommendations from business groups and other advocates whose support could undercut GOP claims that Obama is exceeding his authority to help people who have already violated immigration laws.


AP NewsBreak: Navy kicks out 34 for nuke cheating
WASHINGTON (AP) - At least 34 sailors are being kicked out of the Navy for their roles in a cheating ring that operated undetected for at least seven years at a nuclear power training site, and 10 others are under criminal investigation, the admiral in charge of the Navy's nuclear reactors program told The Associated Press. The number of accused and the duration of cheating are greater than was known when the Navy announced in February that it had discovered cheating on qualification exams by an estimated 20 to 30 sailors seeking to be certified as instructors at the nuclear training unit at Charleston, South Carolina. Students there are trained in nuclear reactor operations to prepare for service on any of the Navy's 83 nuclear-powered submarines and aircraft carriers.


APNewsBreak: B ofA reaches $17B settlement with US
WASHINGTON (AP) - Bank of America has reached a record settlement of nearly $17 billion to resolve an investigation into its role in the sale of mortgage-backed securities before the 2008 financial crisis, officials directly familiar with the matter said Wednesday. One of the officials, who spoke with The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the announcement isn't scheduled until Thursday at the earliest, said the bank will pay $9.65 billion in cash and provide consumer relief valued at $7 billion.


Ukrainian govt troops take over much of Luhansk
DONETSK, Ukraine (AP) - After days of street battles and weeks of shelling, Ukrainian troops made a significant push Wednesday into rebel-held territory, claiming control over a large part of the separatist stronghold of Luhansk and nearly encircling Donetsk, the largest rebel-held city. The advance of the Ukrainian army against pro-Russian separatists comes as the civilian death toll is mounting from sustained artillery strikes and rebel cities are slipping into a humanitarian disaster. At least 52 deaths were reported Wednesday, along with 64 wounded - and due to the dangers of the war zone in eastern Ukraine, no deaths were reported from Luhansk, meaning the actual toll could be even higher.