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AP Top News at 10:03 p.m. EDT

Clinton's pledge: Steady hand at 'moment of reckoning'
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Confronting a "moment of reckoning," Hillary Clinton is casting herself as a unifier for divided times and a tested, steady hand to lead in a volatile world. "We are clear-eyed about what our country is up against," she said in excerpts released ahead of her speech Thursday accepting the Democratic presidential nomination. "But we are not afraid. We will rise to the challenge, just as we always have." Clinton's national convention address follows three nights of Democratic stars, including a past and present president, asserting she is ready for the White House. On the gathering's final night, she was making that case for herself on the convention's final night.


The Latest: Retired general back Clinton, says he trusts her
A retired Marine general has delivered an impassioned endorsement of Hillary Clinton. And he's blasting Donald Trump for saying suspected terrorists should be tortured and for offering conditional U.S. support of NATO allies. John Allen tells Democratic delegates the election between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump will help determine the country's future. As the crowd chants "USA! USA!" Allen says he trusts Clinton to be commander in chief. Allen says that under Clinton, the military won't become what he calls an "instrument of torture." Allen says that with Clinton in the White House, U.S. international relations won't be reduced to a business transaction.


AP EXPLAINS: Long history of women running for president
It's been read, written and said countless times in the last few days: Hillary Clinton is the first woman to claim a major party's presidential nomination. But why that "major" qualifier? No woman has been this close to the Oval Office before, right? The background: --- HOW MANY WOMEN HAVE RUN FOR PRESIDENT BEFORE? According to Smithsonian historians, the number exceeds 200, a list that comprises nominees of many minor parties, and includes candidates who ran for president before women won the right to vote in 1920. The list includes recent names like Jill Stein, this year's Green Party candidate who ran under the same label in 2012; Shirley Chisholm, the first black congresswoman, who ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1972; then-Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, a Republican candidate in 2012; and former Sen.


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10 Things to Know for Friday
Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday: 1. AS CONVENTION WRAPS, DEMOCRATS GIRD FOR TIGHT CONTEST Even as Clinton and her supporters argue Trump is unqualified for the Oval Office, they recognize the businessman connects with some voters in a way she does not. 2. CLINTON'S HISTORIC NOMINATION CAUSES LITTLE STIR OUTSIDE US After all, dozens of female leaders have served across Europe, Africa, Asia, South America and Australia. 3. POPE'S MASS IN POLAND DRAWS HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS Francis, visiting Eastern Europe for the first time, praises countless "ordinary yet remarkable people" who held firm to their Catholic faith throughout adversity in the former Communist-ruled nation.


Police and protesters credited with restraint at convention
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Bernie Sanders' devoted followers were careful to pick up after themselves and wore hats embroidered with a dove to remind everyone to remain peaceful. And the police, instead of hauling demonstrators off to jail, issued them $50 tickets for disorderly conduct and released them with a complimentary bottle of water. As the Democratic National Convention drew toward a close Thursday afternoon, Philadelphia police reported making a four-day total of only 11 arrests, and officers and protesters alike were credited with showing restraint and courtesy. The rallies and marches that some feared would result in violence and mass disruptions instead brought a festival-like atmosphere at times to City Hall and Broad Street.


Trump has a record of siding with Putin on key issues
MOSCOW (AP) - Donald Trump has refused to condemn Russia's military takeover of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula, saying if elected he would consider recognizing it as Russian territory, in the latest of a series of statements that have raised eyebrows about the Republican candidate's intentions toward the Kremlin. "We'll be looking at that. Yeah, we'll be looking," Trump told reporters on Wednesday. Accepting Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea would be a radical departure from U.S. policy. The United States and the European Union worked together to punish Russia by imposing economic sanctions and have shown no willingness to lift them. Even Belarus, Russia's closest ally and neighbor, did not recognize the annexation.


Syria Nusra Front leader claims to cut ties with al-Qaida
BEIRUT (AP) - The leader of Syria's Nusra Front said in recording aired Thursday that his group is changing its name, claiming it will have no more ties with al-Qaida in an attempt to undermine a potential U.S. and Russian air campaign against its fighters. The announcement is the first time that an entire branch of al-Qaida has said it is leaving the terror network. But the move took place with the endorsement of al-Qaida's central leadership, and its ideology remains the same, raising questions whether the change really goes beyond the new name, the Levant Conquest Front. The United States, which considers Nusra a terrorist organization, immediately expressed its skepticism.


Experts confront multiple explanations for surge of killings
NEW YORK (AP) - The relentless series of mass killings across the globe poses a challenge for experts trying to analyze them without lapsing into faulty generalizations. Terms like contagion and copycat killing apply in some cases, not in others, they say, and in certain instances perpetrators' terrorist ideology intersects with psychological instability. Some of the attacks, such as the coordinated assault on multiple targets in Paris last November, were elaborately planned operations by Islamic State adherents. However, they may have contributed to some of the other attacks by troubled individuals with no established ties to the militant group. J. Reid Meloy, a San Diego-based forensic psychologist who has served as a consultant to the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Program, said some of the attackers appear to have identified with Islamic State as an outlet for their own seething emotions.


Wounded officers struggle with news of Hinckley's release
WASHINGTON (AP) - John Hinckley Jr. shot four people outside a Washington hotel on March 30, 1981, but two of his victims understandably got most of the attention: President Ronald Reagan and his press secretary, James Brady. Two other men - Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy and District of Columbia police officer Thomas Delahanty - each took a bullet to protect the president. Thirty-five years later, they've lived to see Hinckley freed. On Thursday, both were still coming to terms with the news that Hinckley, now 61, will soon be released from a Washington psychiatric hospital to live full-time with his 90-year-old mother in Williamsburg, Virginia.


Man convicted in Chandra Levy's death won't be retried
Prosecutors announced Thursday that they will not retry a man convicted of killing Washington intern Chandra Levy, saying they can no longer prove their case in the 15-year-old slaying that thrust former congressman Gary Condit into the national spotlight. The U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia issued a statement saying it has moved to dismiss the case charging Ingmar Guandique with Levy's 2001 killing. According to the statement, prosecutors concluded they can no longer prove the murder case against Guandique beyond a reasonable doubt, "based on recent unforeseen developments that were investigated over the past week." The statement does not elaborate, and Bill Miller, a spokesman for the U.S.