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AP Top News at 3:19 p.m. EDT

Charlottesville covers Confederate statues with black shroud
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) - Workers in Charlottesville draped giant black covers over two statues of Confederate generals on Wednesday to symbolize the city's mourning for a woman killed while protesting a white nationalist rally. The work began around 1 p.m. in Emancipation Park, where a towering monument of Gen. Robert E. Lee on horseback stands. Workers gathered around the monument with a large black drape. Some stood in cherry-pickers and others used ropes and poles to cover the statue as onlookers took photos and video. Some of the crowd cheered as the cover was put in place. "It's great. It's a good start," said Jamie Dyer, who spoke a short time later from nearby Justice Park, where workers covered a statue of Gen.


Violence in Charlottesville leads to soul-searching at ACLU
NEW YORK (AP) - Faced with an angry backlash for defending white supremacists' right to march in Charlottesville, the American Civil Liberties Union is confronting a feeling among some of its members that was once considered heresy: Maybe some speech isn't worth defending. Cracks in the ACLU's strict defense of the First Amendment no matter how offensive the speech opened from the moment a counter-protester was killed during the rally in Virginia. Some critics said the ACLU has blood on its hands for persuading a judge to let the Aug. 12 march go forward. An ACLU leader in Virginia resigned, tweeting, "What's legal and what's right are sometimes different."


Trump preaches unity to vets after fiery political speech
RENO, Nev. (AP) - A day after a searing speech tearing into the media and members of his own political party, President Donald Trump returned to calls for unity and love as he spoke to veterans Wednesday at an American Legion conference. "We are here to hold you up as an example of strength, courage and resolve that our country will need to overcome the many challenges that we face," Trump told the veterans, speaking in measured tones and adhering to his prepared remarks. He said all Americans must learn the same work ethic, patriotism and devotion as veterans. The messaging zig-zag appears to reflect the president's real-time internal debate between calls for moderation and his inclination to let loose.


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AP FACT CHECK: Trump does what he accuses media of doing
NEW YORK (AP) - President Donald Trump accused the media of selectively quoting from his remarks about the race-fueled violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, to create a misimpression that he had not unequivocally denounced racist conduct. Then the president turned around and did the same thing himself: At a Tuesday night rally in Phoenix, the president re-read portions of his comments about the violence - but left out the specific phrase that generated all the controversy. In that statement, which Trump uttered in the hours after the Aug. 12 violence, the president said he condemned "in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides.


Navy dismisses 7th Fleet commander after warship accidents
TOKYO (AP) - The U.S. Navy dismissed the commander of the Asia-based 7th Fleet on Wednesday after a series of warship accidents raised questions about its operations in the Pacific. A two-sentence statement said Adm. Scott Swift, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, had relieved Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin "due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command." The move follows four Navy accidents in the Pacific since late January, including two collisions that left sailors dead and missing. "While each of these four incidents is unique, they cannot be viewed in isolation," Swift said earlier. He said the Navy will carry out a "deliberate re-set" of all its ships in the Pacific, focused on navigation, mechanical systems and bridge resource management.


Players hold breath as $700M Powerball jackpot drawing nears
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Lottery players across the U.S. are scooping up $2 Powerball tickets in hopes of beating the odds and winning a massive $700 million jackpot as Wednesday night's drawing nears. Some details about the game and the giant prize: --- WHAT IS POWERBALL AND HOW DOES THE GAME WORK? Powerball is played in 44 states plus Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, all of which collectively oversee the game. Drawings are held twice a week, with the next one Wednesday at 10:59 p.m. Eastern Time in Tallahassee, Florida. Five white balls will be drawn from a drum containing 69 balls and one red ball will be selected from a drum with 26 balls.


Swedish journalist's torso found in submarine death mystery
COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) - Journalist Kim Wall had reported on conflicts, crises and natural disasters around the world. Earlier this month, she set out to sea from laid-back Copenhagen for a story about an eccentric Danish inventor and his home-made submarine. She never returned. On Wednesday, police confirmed that Wall's headless torso had been found on a beach near the Danish capital. The inventor, Peter Madsen, has been arrested on suspicion of killing her. Wall, 30, was last seen alive on the evening of Aug. 10 on Madsen's submarine, UC3 Nautilus, off Denmark's eastern coast. Her family says the freelance journalist was working on a story about Madsen, a celebrity entrepreneur and engineer who dreamed of launching a manned space mission.


Study: 50M at risk of arsenic poisoning in Pakistan
ISLAMABAD (AP) - Some 50 million people are at risk of arsenic poisoning from contaminated groundwater in Pakistan's Indus Valley - far more than previously thought, according to a new study. Pakistan is aware of the growing problem, with arsenic levels rising in some areas as people increasingly and indiscriminately draw from the country's underground aquifers, said Lubna Bukhari, who heads the government's Council for Research in Water Resources. "It's a real concern," she said. "Because of lack of rules and regulations, people have exploited the groundwater brutally, and it is driving up arsenic levels." The authors of the study developed a map highlighting areas of likely contamination based on water quality data from nearly 1,200 groundwater pumps tested from 2013 to 2015, and accounting for geological factors including surface slope and soil contents.


Lab-made "mini organs" helping doctors treat cystic fibrosis
UTRECHT, Netherlands (AP) - Els van der Heijden, who has cystic fibrosis, was finding it ever harder to breathe as her lungs filled with thick, sticky mucus. Despite taking more than a dozen pills and inhalers a day, the 53-year-old had to stop working and scale back doing the thing she loved best, horseback riding. Doctors saw no sense in trying an expensive new drug because it hasn't been proven to work in people with the rare type of cystic fibrosis that van der Heijden had. Instead, they scraped a few cells from van der Heijden and used them to grow a mini version of her large intestine in a petri dish.


Taylor Swift ends intrigue, announces new album in November
NEW YORK (AP) - Yes, Taylor Swift fans, Wednesday was a lucky one for you. The pop star who whipped her army of Swifties into a frenzy with video snippets of slithery snake parts on social media posted the title of her new album, "reputation," and announced on Instagram it will be out Nov. 10. The first single, she said in a series of posts, will drop Thursday night. And she threw in the album's cover art for good measure: a black-and-white photo of herself - head and shoulders in slouchy sweatshirt - against a backdrop of newsprint reading, simply, "Taylor Swift" over and over again.


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