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Courts derail voting limits pushed by GOP in 3 states
CHICAGO (AP) - Courts have dealt setbacks in three states to Republican efforts that critics contend restrict voting rights - blocking a North Carolina law requiring photo identification, loosening a similar measure in Wisconsin and halting strict citizenship requirements in Kansas. The rulings Friday came as the 2016 election moves into its final phase, with Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton locked in a high-stakes presidential race and control of the U.S. Senate possibly hanging in the balance. North Carolina is one of about a dozen swing states in the presidential race, while Wisconsin has voted Democratic in recent presidential elections and Kansas has been solidly Republican.


Clinton, Trump struggle for national security upper hand
WASHINGTON (AP) - In their struggle for the upper hand on national security, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are emphasizing strikingly different themes - he as the bold and cunningly unpredictable strongman who will eliminate terrorism; she as the calm, conventional commander in chief who will manage all manner of crises. Terrorism is Trump's national security touchstone, and the Islamic State group is his target. He promises to wipe it out, and quickly. Clinton accuses him of fearmongering and of denigrating the U.S. military as gutted and worn out. She presents herself as the anti-Trump. "America's strength doesn't come from lashing out," she said in accepting the Democratic nomination Thursday.


Convention over, Clinton faces hacking, Trump criticism
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Giddy if exhausted, Hillary Clinton embarked on a post-convention Rust Belt bus tour just hours after becoming the first female presidential nominee of a major political party. The celebratory mood quickly evaporated amid fresh revelations that hackers had breached a program used by her campaign and Republican nominee Donald Trump promised to sharpen his barbs. "Remember this," Trump said during a rally Friday in Colorado Springs, Colorado. "Trump is going to be no more Mr. Nice Guy." And for the first time he encouraged his supporters' anti-Clinton chants of "lock her up." "I've been saying let's just beat her on Nov.


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City officials: 3 dead, 1 hurt in shooting north of Seattle
MUKILTEO, Washington (AP) - Gunfire disrupted a small gathering at a suburban Seattle home, leaving three people dead and a fourth person injured early Saturday, police said. A suspect was apprehended three counties away, said Officer Myron Travis of the Mukilteo Police Department. About 15-20 people were in the home at the time of the shooting, and all have been interviewed by police, Travis said. "Our community has suffered a great loss tonight," Mayor Jennifer Gregerson said. "There were many young people who saw and heard things that no one should ever experience." Police did not release the names of the victims.


Afghan official: Taliban capture district in Helmand
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AP) - An important district in Afghanistan's southern poppy-growing province of Helmand has fallen under Taliban control after heavy fighting that killed around 17 police and wounded up to 10 others, an official said on Saturday. The director of Helmand's provincial council, Kareem Atal, said that Taliban militants attacked a series of police checkpoints Friday night as part of a larger assault in the Kanashin district. Earlier, his deputy, Abdul Majeed Akhonzada, told The Associated Press that Kanashin district has "fallen into Taliban hands." The fall of the district, which borders Pakistan and major poppy-producing districts, means "Taliban are in control of 60 percent of Helmand," Akhonzada said.


States' flag-burning laws unconstitutional, but persist
URBANA, Ill. (AP) - Champaign County State's Attorney Julia Rietz had just finished walking in a July 4th parade when her assistant told her a central Illinois man had been arrested on suspicion of burning an American flag. Rietz said she knew "immediately" that the Urbana Police Department needed to release Bryton Mellott, who posted a video of the act on Facebook and whom police initially said they arrested to protect from threats. The state law used to jail him, though clear in its prohibition of desecrating either the U.S. or state flags, is unconstitutional. An Associated Press analysis shows at least 40 states still have flag-desecration laws, punishing those who burn or otherwise damage U.S.


John Hinckley's return to normalcy has been years in making
WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (AP) - Life for the man who tried to assassinate President Ronald Reagan 35 years ago has progressively become more normal, with greater freedom outside a psychiatric hospital, and perhaps nowhere is this more evident than the record store where he whiles away so many hours. John Hinckley Jr., now 61, has made purchases at Retro Daddio one might expect from a man of his generation: A book about The Who, the graying rock band currently on a farewell tour, and an album by obscure '60s rockers Ian and the Zodiacs that languished on the shelf for six months.


Former KKK member convicted in deadly bombing up for parole
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - Thomas Edwin Blanton Jr. was a young Ku Klux Klansman with a reputation for hating blacks in 1963, when a bomb ripped a hole in the side of 16th Street Baptist Church, killing four black girls during the civil rights movement. Today, Blanton is old and imprisoned, the last survivor among three one-time KKK members convicted of murder in the bombing. Soon, Alabama's parole board will decide whether Blanton deserves to be free after serving 15 years of a life term for murder. The board has scheduled a hearing for Wednesday to consider parole for the 78-year-old Blanton.


Gaza's Hamas hands out land hoping to avoid financial crisis
KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip (AP) - Earth movers dig into sand dunes on land where once Jewish settlements stood - prime real estate that the Gaza Strip's ruling Hamas group hopes will ease its worsening financial crisis. Hamas has begun handing out plots of the land to 40,000 civil servants loyal to the Islamic militant group, to make up for millions of dollars in salaries it owes them for the past two years. The land giveaway is the latest sign that Hamas is struggling financially after almost a decade of uncontested power in the coastal strip. Gazans grumble about lack of jobs, constant electricity shortages and a blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt that has confined the territory's 1.8 million people to the tiny strip.