AP Top News at 6:17 p.m. EDT

Trump, GOP look to 'Obamacare' report as comeback lifeline
DORAL, Florida (AP) - Suddenly armed with fresh political ammunition, Donald Trump and anxious Republicans across the nation seized on spiking health care costs Tuesday in a final-days effort to spark election momentum. The Republican presidential nominee, trekking across must-win Florida, insisted "Obamacare is just blowing up" after the government projected sharp cost increases for President Barack Obama's signature health care law. Democrat Hillary Clinton, fighting to block Trump in the same battleground state, has vowed to preserve insurance for the millions of Americans covered under the law, but her team described the cost surge as a "big concern." The renewed emphasis on health care gave battered Republican House and Senate candidates a brief respite from months of painful questions about their presidential nominee, who has questioned the integrity of the U.S.

Teachers use nasty election to spark polite student debate
WASHINGTON (AP) - From mock elections to writing projects and Electoral College math, many teachers around the country are embracing the often nasty presidential race between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton as a real-world teaching tool. Muslims. Taxes. The wall. Emails. The negative exchanges. They're all up for discussion in Halie Miller's fourth-grade class at Glacier Ridge Elementary in Dublin, Ohio. But when the students hold their own debates, they're polite and respectful. "We kind of have debates and never yell at each other," says 9-year-old Mia Dahi. "We give our opinions and what we think about it, but we don't really fight about it." The election provides material for other subjects beyond social studies.

Fearing Election Day trouble, some US schools cancel classes
FALMOUTH, Maine (AP) - Rigged elections. Vigilante observers. Angry voters. The claims, threats and passions surrounding the presidential race have led communities around the U.S. to move polling places out of schools or cancel classes on Election Day. The fear is that the ugly rhetoric of the campaign could escalate into confrontations and even violence in school hallways, endangering students. "If anybody can sit there and say they don't think this is a contentious election, then they aren't paying much attention," said Ed Tolan, police chief in this seaside community, which decided to call off classes on Election Day and put additional officers on duty Nov.

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Pakistani cadets ran, jumped from windows to flee militants
QUETTA, Pakistan (AP) - Survivors of an overnight attack that killed 61 people at a Pakistani police academy described chaotic scenes of gunfire and explosions, with militants shooting anyone they saw and cadets running for their lives and jumping from windows and rooftops. A Taliban splinter group and an affiliate of the Islamic State group made competing claims of responsibility for the four-hour siege late Monday at the Police Training College on the outskirts of the southwestern city of Quetta. Most of the dead and the 123 wounded were recruits and cadets, said Wasay Khan, a spokesman for the paramilitary Frontier Corps.

4 killed on river rapids ride at Australian theme park
SYDNEY (AP) - Four people including a young mother and her brother were killed Tuesday after a river rapids ride malfunctioned at a popular theme park on Australia's east coast, officials said. Two men and two women died while on the ride at Dreamworld, a park on Queensland state's Gold Coast, Queensland police officer Tod Reid told reporters. Two children who were in the raft at the time of the accident were hospitalized, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said on Wednesday. She did not detail the children's condition or explain their relationship to the victims. The Thunder River Rapids ride whisks people in circular rafts along a fast-moving, man-made river.

Iraq battles IS in western town, far from Mosul
BAGHDAD (AP) - Iraqi forces battled Islamic State fighters for a third day in a remote western town far from Mosul on Tuesday, but the U.S.-led coalition insisted the latest in a series of "spoiler attacks" had not forced it to divert resources from the fight to retake Iraq's second-largest city. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi acknowledged that the militants briefly seized the local government headquarters in the western town of Rutba, offering new details about the assault, which U.S. and Iraqi officials have sought to downplay since it began on Sunday. The White House envoy to the U.S.-led coalition battling IS insisted the militants' strategy was failing, saying there had been "no diversion whatsoever" of forces taking part in the Mosul operation, which is expected to take weeks, if not months.

With every turn of a wrench, Jordanian woman breaks barriers
ZARQA, Jordan (AP) - It is graduation day, and Maryam Mutlaq is celebrating her transformation from stay-at-home mom to licensed plumber. The training took 18 months. Now, Mutlaq and her 29 course mates - all veiled, most middle-aged - take turns presenting a business plan at the March ceremony. Mutlaq, 41, speaks with a clear, strong voice and stands out for her detailed vision. She will open a storefront plumbing business, she tells the other women. From there she plans to sell pipes and other spare parts, and book house calls. She's even picked out a name, Challenge, and a location in an up-and-coming neighborhood in this otherwise drab, impoverished city of more than 1 million people.

DIVIDED AMERICA: Yearning for unity, enduring divisiveness
Though they live about 1,730 miles apart, though they've never met, though they are of different races and backgrounds, Lauren Boebert and Dorothy Johnson-Speight speak almost in unison when they lament the fracturing of America. Americans must "come together, be non-judgmental about people and their opinions," says Johnson-Speight. Americans must "come together as one," says Boebert. And yet these two women stand squarely at the epicenter of American acrimony - territory explored by The Associated Press in "Divided America," a series of stories that surveyed a United States that is far from united. --- EDITOR'S NOTE - This is the final installment of Divided America, AP's exploration of the economic, social and political divisions in American society.

On Trump, Sen. McConnell has gone from quiet to mum
WASHINGTON (AP) - Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has never had much to say about Donald Trump. But lately, he has fallen completely silent. As he's made the rounds in his home state of Kentucky this month, McConnell has either ducked reporters' questions or explicitly refused to address the topic he acknowledged was on everyone's mind: his party's presidential nominee. At a local Chamber of Commerce event in Danville, McConnell twice instructed the crowd not to ask him about the presidential race "even though that's what I know you all wanted me to talk about." At an event in Pikeville, McConnell refused to answer a reporter's question about Trump not paying any taxes.

Anger still flares after judge OKs Volkswagen emissions deal
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - A federal judge approved the largest auto-scandal settlement in U.S. history Tuesday, giving nearly a half-million Volkswagen owners and leaseholders the choice between selling their cars back or having them repaired so they don't cheat on emissions tests and spew excess pollution. U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer said the nearly $15 billion deal "adequately and fairly" compensates consumers and gets the polluting vehicles off the road as soon as possible. The German automaker acknowledged last year that about 475,000 Volkswagens and Audis with 2-liter, four-cylinder diesel engines were programmed to cheat on emissions tests. Under the agreement, owners can choose to have Volkswagen buy back their vehicle regardless of its condition for the full trade-in price on Sept.