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AP Top News at 5:04 p.m. EST

North Korea experiencing severe Internet outages
WASHINGTON (AP) - North Korea experienced sweeping and progressively worse Internet outages extending into Monday, with one computer expert saying the country's online access is "totally down." The White House and the State Department declined to say whether the U.S. government was responsible. President Barack Obama said Friday the U.S. government expected to respond to the hacking of Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc., which he described as an expensive act of "cyber vandalism" that he blamed on North Korea. Obama did not say how the U.S. might respond, and it was not immediately clear if the Internet connectivity problems represented the retribution. The U.S. government regards its offensive cyber operations as highly classified.


NY mayor: No protests until after officer funerals
NEW YORK (AP) - New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called Monday for a pause in protests over police conduct as he faced a widening rift with those in a grieving force who accuse him of creating a climate of mistrust that contributed to the execution of two officers. "I think it's important that, regardless of people's viewpoints, that everyone step back," de Blasio said in a speech Monday at the Police Athletic League. "I think it's a time for everyone to put aside political debates, put aside protests, put aside all of the things that we will talk about in all due time."


Cuba: Asylum for fugitives is legitimate right
HAVANA (AP) - Cuba said Monday that it has a right to grant asylum to U.S. fugitives, the clearest sign to date that the communist government has no intention of extraditing America's most-wanted woman despite the warming of bilateral relations. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has urged President Barack Obama to demand the return of fugitive Joanne Chesimard before restoring full relations under a historic detente announced by Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro last week.


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Pope in blistering critique of Vatican bureaucrats
VATICAN CITY (AP) - To the Catholic Church's "seven deadly sins," Pope Francis has added the "15 ailments of the Curia." Francis issued a blistering indictment of the Vatican bureaucracy Monday, accusing the cardinals, bishops and priests who serve him of using their Vatican careers to grab power and wealth, of living "hypocritical" double lives and forgetting that they're supposed to be joyful men of God.


Going it alone, Obama rocked the boat in 2014
HONOLULU (AP) - President Barack Obama rang in 2014 by declaring a "year of action," vowing to strengthen the nation by focusing on fairness, competitiveness and the power of American diplomacy. Since Congress seemed unwilling to help, the president said he'd act alone. On immigration, climate change and U.S.-Cuba relations, at least, Obama stayed true to his word, reshaping on his own decades of American policy he argued had outlived its time. In a flurry of executive decrees taken over the heads of lawmakers, Obama added major notches to his legacy and tackled important issues for key support groups.


Late at night, Christie doing 2016 foreign policy homework
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - It's after 9 p.m. on a Sunday night in late November and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is deep into a conference call, talking about nuclear weapons and Iran. One voice is advocating a hard line, arguing against allowing Iran any capability to enrich uranium. Another summarizes the status of current negotiations and argues that forcing Iran to give up enrichment entirely isn't realistic.


Convict in 1964 civil-rights deaths won't confess
PARCHMAN, Miss. (AP) - Craggy-faced and ornery, Edgar Ray Killen bears the signs of his 89 years. His hands are still scarred and rough from decades in the east Mississippi sawmills. He has a muscular build even as he maneuvers in his wheelchair. Time has not softened his views and he remains an ardent segregationist. And he steadfastly refuses to discuss the "Freedom Summer" slayings of three civil-rights workers, which sparked national outrage, helped spur passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and landed him behind bars.


Arizona to change drugs it uses in executions
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) - Arizona officials said Monday they are changing the drugs they use in executions after an inmate in July gasped repeatedly over the course of nearly two hours while being put to death. According to a letter from Department of Corrections Director Charles Ryan to Gov. Jan Brewer, the department no longer will use the combination of midazolam, a sedative, and hydromorphone, a pain killer.


Ex-headmaster guilty in child porn case
WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - A judge has convicted a former headmaster of an elite Delaware prep school on 25 counts of dealing in child pornography. The convictions on all counts Monday came after a bench trial for 54-year-old Christopher Wheeler. Wheeler was headmaster at Tower Hill school, which was founded by members of the du Pont family.


British singer Joe Cocker dies of lung cancer
NEW YORK (AP) - Joe Cocker, the raspy-voiced British singer known for his frenzied cover of "With a Little Help From My Friends," the teary ballad "You Are So Beautiful" and a contorted performing style uncannily parodied by John Belushi on "Saturday Night Live," has died. He was 70. His London-based agent, Barrie Marshall, said Cocker died Monday of lung cancer in Colorado, where he has lived for the past two decades.