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AP Top News at 11:48 a.m. EDT

Hong Kong leader rejects protesters' demands
HONG KONG (AP) - Pro-democracy protesters demanded that Hong Kong's top leader meet with them, threatening wider actions if he did not, after he said Tuesday that China would not budge in its decision to limit voting reforms in the Asian financial hub. Chinese President Xi Jinping, who has taken a hard line against any perceived threat to the Communist Party's hold on power, meanwhile vowed in a National Day speech to "steadfastly safeguard" Hong Kong's prosperity and stability. He said Beijing believes Hong Kong will "create an even better future in the big family of the motherland."


Secret Service head takes onus for WH breach
WASHINGTON (AP) - Facing blistering criticism from Congress, Secret Service Director Julia Pierson acknowledged on Tuesday the agency fell short in executing its plan to protect the White House when a man with a knife entered the mansion and ran through half the ground floor before being subdued. "It's unacceptable," Pierson told lawmakers, promising a review of how the storied but blemished agency carries out its mission of protecting the president and how it failed to intercept the intruder much earlier.


Hostage tale suggests IS wary of upsetting Turkey
SILOPI, Turkey (AP) - Turkish truck driver Ozgur Simsek was sleeping off a 1,000-kilometer (620-mile) fuel run to the Qayara power station in Iraq, he said, when he heard banging on his vehicle's door. "IS took over last night," the power plant's foreman shouted, referring to the Islamic State group. "Empty your trucks and run!"


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Iraqi Arabs claim persecution by Kurds
KIRKUK, Iraq (AP) - When Sunni militants captured Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, in June, Abu Sara and his family feared their town of Taza, located some 50 kilometers southeast of the city, would inevitably be next. Government soldiers had dropped their weapons and abandoned their posts - forcing residents to fend for themselves. It wasn't before long before the gas was cut, then the water, ahead of the imminent onslaught. The family was left with little choice but to flee to the closest city that could offer them safe haven - Kurdish-dominated Kirkuk.


Oklahoma man charged with murder in beheading
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) - An Oklahoma man was charged Tuesday with first-degree murder in the gruesome beheading of a Vaughan Foods worker, authorities said. Cleveland County prosecutor Greg Mashburn said 30-year-old Alton Nolen faces murder and assault charges. The attack killed 54-year-old Colleen Hufford, and 43-year-old Traci Johnson was repeatedly stabbed. Johnson survived the attack.


Families wait in agony for word on Ebola patients
MONROVIA, Liberia (AP) - First the ring tone echoed outside the barbed-wire-topped walls of the Ebola clinic. Then came the wails of grief, as news spread that 31-year-old Rose Johnson was dead just days after she was brought here unconscious by relatives. Soon her mother's sorrow became so unbearable, her body so limp and heavy, that even her two other daughters could no longer help her stand.


Luck, instinct determined fates of volcano hikers
TOKYO (AP) - Huge boulders falling from the sky. Billowing gray smoke that cast total darkness over the mountain. Volcanic ash piling on the ground and fumes filling the air. Some survivors of the eruption of Mount Ontake made a split-second decision to hide behind big rocks or escaped into lodges that dot the mountain's slopes. Outdoors, other hikers fell, hit by rocks or possibly suffocated by gases, and quickly buried in ash. At least 36 people were killed in Saturday's surprise eruption.


Virginia police: Forensic evidence links 2 cases
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - They both were walking alone, separated from their friends late at night on or near the University of Virginia campus. One was found dead nearly five years ago. The other is still missing. And now police believe they have found a link between the 2009 slaying of Morgan Harrington and the Sept. 13 disappearance of Hannah Graham: Forensic evidence found in the arrest of a hospital worker and former taxi driver who fled the state when he learned police wanted to question him about the Graham case.


EBay to split off lucrative PayPal business
NEW YORK (AP) - EBay is splitting off its fastest growing segment, payment service PayPal, the e-commerce company said Tuesday. Investors applauded the news, sending eBay's shares up nearly 7 percent in morning trading.


AP PHOTOS: Rush-hour keeps billions on the move
On packed subways and crowded highways, billions of people participate in a short-distance population shift twice a day: the rhythmic ritual of the daily commute to and from work. More than 300 million people use the United States' transport systems every day, and in 2012 a whopping 76 percent of them got to work by driving alone, a U.S. Department of Transportation report out last week noted. That can make for a lot of gridlock.