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AP Top News at 2:35 a.m. EDT

Michigan affirmative ban is OK, Supreme Court says
WASHINGTON (AP) - A state's voters are free to outlaw the use of race as a factor in college admissions, the Supreme Court ruled Tuesday in a blow to affirmative action that also laid bare tensions among the justices about a continuing need for programs that address racial inequality in America. The 6-2 decision upheld a voter-approved change to the Michigan Constitution that forbids the state's public colleges to take race into account. That change was indeed up to the voters, the ruling said, over one justice's impassioned dissent that accused the court of simply wanting to wish away inequality.


Obama visit to Asia seen as counterweight to China
TOKYO (AP) - President Barack Obama's travels through Asia aim to reassure partners about the renewed U.S. commitment to the region, with an eye both to China's rising assertiveness and the fast-growing markets that are the center of gravity for global growth. The question: Will it be enough?


Ukraine orders new military operation in the east
KIEV, Ukraine (AP) - Ukraine's acting president ordered security forces to resume operations in the country's east on Tuesday after the bodies of two people allegedly abducted by pro-Russia insurgents were found and a military aircraft was reportedly hit by gunfire. The developments - just hours after U.S. Vice President Joe Biden left the Ukrainian capital - raised fears that last week's international agreement on easing Ukraine's crisis was unraveling.


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Missouri executes inmate for 1993 farm slaying
BONNE TERRE, Mo. (AP) - Missouri executed an inmate early Wednesday who was convicted of killing a farming couple in 1993 as part of a plot to steal their cows. William Rousan's last words were, "My trials and transgressions have been many. But thanks be to my Lord and savior, Jesus Christ, I have a new home in his heavenly kingdom."


Analysis: Putin likely to ignore West on Ukraine
MOSCOW (AP) - Since he took over Crimea, President Vladimir Putin has seen his popularity soar and his opposition fall silent. So when the U.S. vice president told Russia to defuse tensions in Ukraine, Putin had few reasons to listen. Emboldened by the national euphoria over the annexation of Crimea, Putin has moved against the few remaining critical voices in Russia and further neutered the news media. On Tuesday, a court cleared the way for sending his most vocal critic to prison.


SKorea ferry toll hits 150 as search gets tougher
JINDO, South Korea (AP) - The grim work of recovering bodies from the submerged South Korea ferry proceeded rapidly Wednesday, with the official death toll reaching 150, though a government official said divers must now rip through cabin walls to retrieve more victims. The victims are overwhelmingly students of a single high school in Ansan, near Seoul. More than three-quarters of the 323 students are dead or missing, while nearly two-thirds of the other 153 people on board the ferry Sewol when it sank one week ago survived.


'Piles and piles' of bodies in S. Sudan slaughter
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) - The townsfolk believed the mosque was safe. They crammed inside as rebel forces in South Sudan took control of the town from government troops. But it wasn't safe. Robbers grabbed their cash and mobile phones. Then gunmen came and opened fire on everyone, young and old. The U.N. says hundreds of civilians were killed in the massacre last week in Bentiu, the capital of South Sudan's oil-producing Unity state, a tragic reflection of longstanding ethnic hostilities in the world's newest country.


Pope John XXIII launched Vatican II and then some
VATICAN CITY (AP) - On the night of Oct. 11, 1962, Pope John XXIII did something so natural that it's astonishing it was so revolutionary at the time. He came to the window of the Vatican's Apostolic Palace and spoke to thousands of candle-bearing faithful below - not in the arcane, scripted words of pontiffs past but in those of a father and pastor looking out for his flock. "Going home, you will find your children. Give them a caress and tell them `This is the caress of the pope,'" John said to the torch-lit cheers from St. Peter's Square.


Australia signals deeper search for Malaysian jet
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) - Australia's prime minister said Wednesday that failure to find any clue in the most likely crash site of the missing Malaysia Airlines jet would not spell the end of the search, as officials planned to soon bring in more powerful sonar equipment that can delve deeper beneath the Indian Ocean. The search coordination center said Wednesday a robotic submarine, the U.S. Navy's Bluefin 21, had so far covered more than 80 percent of the 310-square-kilometer (120-square-mile) seabed search zone off the Australian west coast, creating a three-dimensional sonar map of the ocean floor. Nothing of interest had been found.


Some drama off-camera in Mideast conflict film
AL-EIN REFUGEE CAMP, West Bank (AP) - An American director's short film about an Israeli army raid in a Palestinian refugee camp ends with a surprise - literally involving a rabbit, though not one pulled from a hat. The story told in "The Warren" is meant to question the ways Israelis and Palestinians see each other as a result of their long-running conflict. The diverse cast and crew - Arabs and Jews, locals and foreigners - struggled with those issues off camera as well during several days of filming in the al-Ein camp, a former militant stronghold near the West Bank city of Nablus.