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AP Top News at 3:18 p.m. EST

Obama to seek to bust spending limits by $74 billion
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama will ask Congress to boost government spending by roughly 7 percent above current limits, the White House said Thursday, setting up a certain clash with Republicans who insist that federal spending must be held in check. Obama's budget, to be formally released Monday, will call for $74 billion more than the levels frozen in place by across-the-board cuts agreed to by both Democrats and Republicans and signed by Obama into law. The White House said his new budget proposals will "fully reverse" the so-called sequestration on the domestic side, while raising military spending.


Jordan seeks proof captive pilot alive before any IS trade
AMMAN, Jordan (AP) - Jordan on Thursday demanded proof from Islamic State militants that a Jordanian pilot they are holding is still alive, despite purported threats by the group to kill the airman at sunset unless an al-Qaida prisoner is freed from death row in Jordan. The militants' deadline passed without word on the fate of the pilot, Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh, and a fellow hostage, Japanese journalist Kenji Goto.


10 Things to See: A week of top AP photos
Here's your look at highlights from the weekly AP photo report, a gallery featuring a mix of front-page photography, the odd image you might have missed and lasting moments our editors think you should see. This week's collection includes Sea Sparkle, a harmful algal bloom that releases a blue glow in the water, off the coast of Hong Kong; Feliciano Lopez of Spain returning a shot during a match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia; the gold mask of King Tutankhamun in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo; and models wearing alien masks during a fashion show in Paris.


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Gas blast at Mexico children's hospital, at least 2 dead
MEXICO CITY (AP) - Injured and bleeding, mothers carrying infants fled from a maternity hospital shattered by a powerful gas explosion on Thursday, and rescuers swung sledgehammers to break through fallen concrete in hunt for others who may have been trapped. At least two people were killed and more than 60 injured, Mexico City Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera said at a news conference. The dead include a woman and a child. Officials earlier said at least four had been killed.


APNewsBreak: Boy Scouts settle California suit over abuse
LOS ANGELES (AP) - The Boy Scouts of America settled a sex abuse case Thursday involving a 20-year-old California man who was molested by a Scout volunteer in 2007 - a decision that will keep years' worth of "perversion" files detailing sex abuse allegations secret from the public. The announcement of the settlement in the Santa Barbara case came after three days of trial. The terms were confidential at the Boy Scouts' request, said Tim Hale, the plaintiff's attorney.


Indonesian investigators: Crashed AirAsia flown by co-pilot
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) - Indonesian investigators announced Thursday the co-pilot of the crashed AirAsia jet was in control when he struggled to recover the aircraft as stall warnings sounded. The Airbus A320-200 crashed into the Java Sea Dec. 28, halfway from Indonesia's city of Surabaya to Singapore. All 162 people on board were killed.


Tech advances lower chance that driver will die in car crash
WASHINGTON (AP) - The chances of a driver dying in a crash in a late-model car or light truck fell by more than a third over three years, and nine car models had zero deaths per million registered vehicles, according to a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Improved vehicle designs and safety technology have a lot to do with the reduced risk, but a weak economy that led to reductions in driving may also have played a role, the institute said.


Poll shows giant gap between what public, scientists think
WASHINGTON (AP) - The American public and U.S. scientists are light-years apart on science issues. And 98 percent of surveyed scientists say it's a problem that we don't know what they're talking about. Scientists are far less worried about genetically modified food, pesticide use, and nuclear power than is the general public, according to matching polls of both the general public and the country's largest general science organization. Scientists were more certain that global warming is caused by man, evolution is real, overpopulation is a danger and mandatory vaccination against childhood diseases is needed.


Ex-NFL star Aaron Hernandez goes on trial on murder charges
FALL RIVER, Mass. (AP) - With his old team about to play in the Super Bowl, former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez went on trial on murder charges Thursday, watching from the defense table as prosecutors showed the jury security-camera footage from his own home to tie him to the crime. Hernandez's lawyer countered by arguing that police and prosecutors "locked" in on the NFL player as a suspect from the very beginning, ignored evidence and conducted a "sloppy and unprofessional" investigation.


Hoodie and scowl hide the Belichick impact
PHOENIX (AP) - He's been called the Evil Genius, and he's been fined for spying on an opponent. And now there are questions about deflated footballs. Any visual portrait of Bill Belichick likely has him wearing a hoodie - and a scowl. Many of his media duties are marked by terse answers or outright stonewalling.