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AP Top News at 8:27 p.m. EDT

Trump mocks critics: I'll accept election results _ if I win
DELAWARE, Ohio (AP) - Mocking his critics, Donald Trump pledged Thursday to fully accept the outcome of next month's presidential election - if he wins. The Republican said he reserved the right to contest questionable results, deepening his unsubstantiated assertions that the race against Hillary Clinton could be rigged against him. Trump's comments came a day after his stunning refusal in the final presidential debate to say whether he would concede to Clinton if he loses. His resistance, threatening to undermine the essence of American democracy, was roundly rejected by fellow Republicans. Arizona Sen. John McCain, the 2008 GOP nominee, called the peaceful transfer of power "the pride of our country." "I didn't like the outcome of the 2008 election.

For first lady, Trump is he who shall remain nameless
PHOENIX (AP) - First lady Michelle Obama has emerged as perhaps the most effective Donald Trump critic in the Democrats' lineup, and she's done it without ever uttering two key words: Donald Trump. In her six campaign trail speeches for Hillary Clinton, the first lady has never said the Republican nominee's name. She's talked about "this candidate" and dedicated much of her time to a searing indictment of his words and positions. But throughout her buzzworthy takedowns, Trump remains the man who shall remain nameless. Mrs. Obama didn't depart from her rhetorical dismissal of Trump in Phoenix Thursday. Her appearance in Arizona was a mission to crack open new territory in a GOP-leaning state polls show is now competitive.

Iraqi special forces join battle for Mosul, US soldier dies
BARTELLA, Iraq (AP) - In a significant escalation of the battle for Mosul, elite Iraqi special forces joined the fight Thursday, unleashing a pre-dawn assault on an Islamic State-held town east of the besieged city, and the U.S. military announced the first American combat death since the operation began. U.S. officials said the American service member died Thursday from wounds sustained in a roadside bomb explosion north of Mosul. More than 100 U.S. special operations forces are embedded with Iraqi units in the offensive, and hundreds more are playing a support role in staging bases. The American had been operating as an explosive ordnance disposal specialist in support of the Iraqi Kurdish force known as the peshmerga, the U.S.

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Turkey ramps up fight against Kurdish fighters in Syria
BEIRUT (AP) - Turkey escalated its offensive Thursday against Kurdish fighters in northern Syria, pounding them with airstrikes and artillery, and complicating the battle against the Islamic State group by Ankara and Washington, both NATO allies. In the fight for Aleppo, meanwhile, the Syrian military used a lull in violence to urge residents and rebels to evacuate the besieged opposition-held part of the city. Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency said as many as 200 members of the Kurdish-led forces were killed in Syria's Aleppo province by the Turkish bombing and shelling. A senior commander with the main Syria Kurdish militia confirmed the Turkish attack on his forces north of Aleppo but disputed the casualty toll, saying that no more than 10 fighters were killed.

Most Syrian refugees arriving in US are kids; schools adapt
EL CAJON, Calif. (AP) - Seated at his desk at a suburban San Diego middle school, 12-year-old Abdulhamid Ashehneh tries not to let his mind wander to the painful memories of his life in civil war-torn Syria. His father disappeared suddenly four years ago and, the family believes, was killed. Months later, Abdulhamid's mother boarded a bus with her six children, the youngest 2, and fled to Jordan, the sound of bombs ringing in the distance. "I think about my Dad a lot," Abdulhamid said recently after practicing English at Cajon Valley Middle School, which has received an influx of Syrian children.

US confirms 11th death due to Takata air bags
DETROIT (AP) - A 50-year-old woman who died after a car wreck last month in California is the 11th U.S. victim of Takata Corp.'s defective air bag inflators. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration confirmed the woman's death on Thursday but didn't release her name. Up to five people also may have been killed by the air bags in Malaysia, bringing the number of deaths globally to as many as 16. The agency said the woman, identified in Riverside County, California, coroner's records as Delia Robles, 50, of Corona, was driving a 2001 Honda Civic. Riverside police said in a statement that a man making a left turn in a Chevrolet pickup truck was hit head-on by the Civic.

UK to pardon thousands convicted under past anti-gay laws
LONDON (AP) - Thousands of men who were convicted under now-abolished British laws against homosexuality are to receive posthumous pardons, the government announced Thursday. Those who are still alive can will be eligible to have their criminal records wiped clean. The Ministry of Justice said the pardons apply to men convicted for consensual same-sex sexual relations before homosexuality was decriminalized several decades ago. Men living with convictions can apply to the government to have their names cleared. Justice Minister Sam Gyimah said the government was trying "to put right these wrongs." "It is hugely important that we pardon people convicted of historical sexual offenses who would be innocent of any crime today," he said.

Watchdog: EPA delayed for 7 months in Flint water crisis
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Environmental Protection Agency had sufficient authority and information to issue an emergency order to protect residents of Flint, Michigan, from lead-contaminated water as early as June 2015 - seven months before it declared an emergency, the EPA's inspector general said Thursday. The Flint crisis should have generated "a greater sense of urgency" at the agency to "intervene when the safety of drinking water is compromised," Inspector General Arthur Elkins said in an interim report. Flint's drinking water became tainted when the city began drawing from the Flint River in April 2014 to save money. The impoverished city of 100,000 north of Detroit was under state control at the time.

Half a year after 8 relatives killed, no answers or arrests
PIKETON, Ohio (AP) - Six months after someone shot eight members of an extended family to death in their homes, surviving relatives are still waiting - for an explanation, for an arrest, for a hint of closure. "I just want to know why?" said Tajianna Mead, of Waverly, whose 44-year-old father, Kenneth Rhoden, was among the victims. When the slayings were discovered the morning of April 22, rural Pike County in the Appalachian foothills of southern Ohio was coming to life with the colors of greening hardwoods and the white petals of dogwood trees. Half a year later, colors are changing again as leaves turn to burnt yellow and red across the thickly wooded hills.

Group named in Indiana probe was registering black voters
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - A Democratic-aligned group at the center of an Indiana investigation into possible voter fraud said Thursday it focused on registering black residents of Indiana because the state had the nation's lowest overall voter turnout in 2014. Patriot Majority USA has ties to the Democratic Party, including Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and former president Bill Clinton, and is one of a host of organizations doing political work on both the right and left that are not required to disclose their donors. According to its 2014 tax return, the most recent available, the group had $30.5 million in revenue that year and spent $13.6 million on political activities, but donors were not disclosed.