AP Top News at 4:50 a.m. EDT

Defense chief's criticism of Iraqis raises policy questions
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Islamic State group's takeover of the Iraqi provincial capital Ramadi has prompted criticism from Defense Secretary Ash Carter and raised new questions about the Obama administration's strategy to defeat the extremist group. The Islamic State group, which had already seized a strategically important swath of the Middle East, seized Ramadi in central Iraq a week ago, which has revived concerns about U.S. efforts to fight the group.


Malaysia: Human traffickers' camps had 139 suspected graves
WANG KELIAN, Malaysia (AP) - Malaysian authorities said Monday that abandoned jungle camps used by human traffickers contained over 100 suspected graves as well as pens likely used as cages for migrants, shedding more light on a regional trade that preyed on some of Southeast Asia's most desperate people. National police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said 139 suspected graves were found amid signs of "cruelty and torture" at 28 camps in the hilly jungle area on the border with Thailand where trafficking syndicates were known to operate.


Deadly storms swamp Plains, Midwest, force Texans from homes
SAN MARCOS, Texas (AP) - A line of storms stretching from the Gulf of Mexico to the Great Lakes dumped record rainfall on parts of the Plains and Midwest, spawning tornadoes and causing major flooding that forced at least 2,000 Texans from their homes. Three deaths were blamed on the storms Saturday and Sunday, including two in Oklahoma and one in Texas, where a man's body was recovered from a flooded area along the Blanco River, which rose 26 feet in an hour and created huge piles of debris. The line of storms prompted tornado warnings and watches as far north as Illinois Sunday night, and the weather system was expected to linger over a large swath of the region Monday, putting a damper on some Memorial Day plans.


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Perry seeks to win over Iowa with frequent visits
LE MARS, Iowa (AP) - Rick Perry's early, hands-on approach in Iowa contrasts with the 2016 presidential prospect's failed bid four years ago, when he entered the race relatively late and stumbled in the debates. The former Texas governor says he has more policy knowledge now and more time for the early states.


Ex-Israeli Premier Olmert sentenced to 8 months in prison
JERUSALEM (AP) - Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was sentenced Monday to eight months in prison for unlawfully accepting money from a U.S. supporter, capping the dramatic downfall of a man who only years earlier led the country and hoped to bring about a historic peace agreement with the Palestinians. Olmert was convicted in March in a retrial in Jerusalem District Court. The sentencing comes in addition to a six-year prison sentence he received last year in a separate bribery conviction, ensuring the end of the former premier's political career.


Businesses quietly switch to dollar in socialist Venezuela
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) - It's still possible to buy a gleaming Ford truck in Venezuela, rent a chic apartment in Caracas, and snag an American Airlines flight to Miami. Just not in the country's official currency. As the South American nation spirals into economic chaos, an increasing number of products are not only figuratively out of the reach of average consumers, but literally cannot be purchased in Venezuelan bolivars, which fell into a tailspin on the black market last week.


Sydney siege inquest: Gunman secretive, defiant narcissist
SYDNEY (AP) - The man who took 18 people hostage at a Sydney cafe last year was educated and erratic, secretive about his own life and public about his many grievances, and a self-obsessed fabulist whose life was spiraling downward in the lead-up to his deadly attack, lawyers told an inquest Monday. The details of Man Monis' life and death are being examined at a coroner's inquest into December's siege at the Lindt Cafe, in which a shotgun-wielding Monis took customers and workers captive and made a series of demands, including that he be delivered a flag of the Islamic State group. The standoff ended when police stormed the cafe. Monis was killed, along with two hostages.


John Nash: A life of great struggle and even greater success
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - Born to an electrical engineer, and later a precocious and dashing young man who attained an Ivy League education, John Nash seemed destined for a life of stunning success. That he achieved, winning a Nobel Prize in 1994, but not without a struggle with mental illness that would make him a household name even more so than his achievements in mathematics. Nash had read the classic "Men of Mathematics" by E.T. Bell by the time he was in high school. He planned to follow in his father's footsteps and studied for three years at the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh - now Carnegie Mellon University - but instead followed his passion for math.


UK airport expansion threatens to take out entire villages
LONDON (AP) - With its classic red phone booth, pub, and medieval church, Harmondsworth's center looks quintessentially British. But the search for a twee English village isn't what brings millions of people within a stone's throw of its boundaries. The attraction is neighboring Heathrow Airport, which served 73 million travelers last year. Now Europe's busiest airport is proposing to build a runway roughly through the center of town, leveling the ivy-covered brick walls of the Harmondsworth Hall guest house and two-thirds of its homes. A village that traces its history to the 6th century would be forever altered, and some argue even what's left would be uninhabitable.


Artsy coffee chain Blue Bottle brews long queues in Tokyo
TOKYO (AP) - Japan, famous for green tea, is welcoming artisanal American coffee roaster Blue Bottle with long lines that have at times meant a four-hour wait for a cup. The company, which began in Oakland, California in 2002, hopes its early popularity is more than a passing fad. Japan's consumer culture is littered with manias for Western food imports: pancakes, popcorn, doughnuts, even Taco Bell.